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Biotechnol J. 2015 Mar;10(3):386-94. doi: 10.1002/biot.201400231. Epub 2015 Jan 16.

Mechanical stability analysis of the protein L immunoglobulin-binding domain by full alanine screening using molecular dynamics simulations.

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Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia; Institute of Mathematical Problems of Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia.


This article is the first to study the mechanical properties of the immunoglobulin-binding domain of protein L (referred to as protein L) and its mutants at the atomic level. In the structure of protein L, each amino acid residue (except for alanines and glycines) was replaced sequentially by alanine. Thus, 49 mutants of protein L were obtained. The proteins were stretched at their termini at constant velocity using molecular dynamics simulations in water, i.e. by forced unfolding. 19 out of 49 mutations resulted in a large decrease of mechanical protein stability. These amino acids were affecting either the secondary structure (11 mutations) or loop structures (8 mutations) of protein L. Analysis of mechanical unfolding of the generated protein that has the same topology as protein L but consists of only alanines and glycines allows us to suggest that the mechanical stability of proteins, and specifically protein L, is determined by interactions between certain amino acid residues, although the unfolding pathway depends on the protein topology. This insight can now be used to modulate the mechanical properties of proteins and their unfolding pathways in the desired direction for using them in various biochips, biosensors and biomaterials for medicine, industry, and household purposes.


Forced unfolding; Intermediate states; Mechanical stability; Molecular dynamics; Mutations

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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