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Protein Sci. 1993 Jun;2(6):985-1000.

Disulfide bonds in homo- and heterodimers of EF-hand subdomains of calbindin D9k: stability, calcium binding, and NMR studies.

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Lund University, Chemical Center, Sweden.


The effect of decreased protein flexibility on the stability and calcium binding properties of calbindin D9k has been addressed in studies of a disulfide bridged calbindin D9k mutant, denoted (L39C + P43M + I73C), with substitutions Leu 39-->Cys, Ile 73-->Cys, and Pro 43-->Met. Backbone 1H NMR assignments show that the disulfide bond, which forms spontaneously under air oxidation, is well accommodated. The disulfide is inserted on the opposite end of the protein molecule with respect to the calcium sites, to avoid direct interference with these sites, as confirmed by 113Cd NMR. The effect of the disulfide bond on calcium binding was assessed by titrations in the presence of a chromophoric chelator. A small but significant effect on the cooperativity was found, as well as a very modest reduction in calcium affinity. The disulfide bond increases Tm, the transition midpoint of thermal denaturation, of calcium free calbindin D9k from 85 to 95 degrees C and Cm, the urea concentration of half denaturation, from 5.3 to 8.0 M. Calbindins with one covalent bond linking the two EF-hand subdomains are equally stable regardless if the covalent link is the 43-44 peptide bond or the disulfide bond. Kinetic remixing experiments show that separated CNBr fragments of (L39C + P43M + I73C), each comprising one EF-hand, form disulfide linked homodimers. Each homodimer binds two calcium ions with positive co-operativity, and an average affinity of 10(6) M-1. Disulfide linkage dramatically increases the stability of each homodimer. For the homodimer of the C-terminal fragment Tm increases from 59 +/- 2 without covalent linkage to 91 +/- 2 degrees C with disulfide, and Cm from approximately 1.5 to 7.5 M. The overall topology of this homodimer is derived from 1H NMR assignments and a few key NOEs.

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