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Biochemistry. 1981 Nov 10;20(23):6509-19.

Electrostatic influence of local cysteine environments on disulfide exchange kinetics.


The ionic strength dependence of the bimolecular rate constant for reaction of the negative disulfide 5,5'-dithiobis (2-nitrobenzoic acid) with cysteines in fragments of naturally occurring proteins was determined by stopped-flow spectroscopy. The Debye-Hückel relationship was applied to determine the effective charge at the cysteine and thereby determine the extent to which nearby neighbors in the primary sequence influence the kinetics. Corrections for the secondary salt effect on cysteine pKs were determined by direct spectrometric pH titration of sulfhydryl groups or by observation of the ionic strength dependence of kinetics of cysteine reaction with the neutral disulfide 2,2'-dithiodipyridine. Quantitative expressions was verified by model studies with N-acetyl-cystein. At ionic strengths equal to or greater than 20 mM, the net charge at the polypeptide cysteine site is the sum of the single negative charge of the thiolate anion and the charges of the amino acids immediately preceding and following the cysteine in the primary sequence. At lower ionic strengths, more distant residues influence kinetics. At pH 7.0, 23 degree C, and an ionic strength of 20 mM, rate constants for reaction of the negative disulfide with a cysteine having two positive neighbors, one positive and one neutral neighbor, or two neutral neighbors are 132000, 3350, and 367 s-1 M-1, respectively. This corresponds to a contribution to the activation energy of 0.65- 1.1 kcal/mol per ion pair involved in collision between the cysteine and disulfide regions. The results permit the estimation that cysteine local environments may provide a means of achieving a 10(6)-fold range in rate constants in disulfide exchange reactions in random-coil proteins. This range may prove useful in developing strategies for directing disulfide pairing in synthetic proteins.

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