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J Mol Biol. 1997 Jun 20;269(4):631-43.

Protein thermal stability, hydrogen bonds, and ion pairs.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.


Researchers in both academia and industry have expressed strong interest in comprehending the mechanisms responsible for enhancing the thermostability of proteins. Many and different structural principles have been postulated for the increased stability. Here, 16 families of proteins with different thermal stability were theoretically examined by comparing their respective fractional polar atom surface areas and the number and type of hydrogen bonds and salt links between explicit protein atoms. In over 80% of the families, correlations were found between the thermostability of the familial members and an increase in the number of hydrogen bonds as well as an increase in the fractional polar surface which results in added hydrogen bonding density to water. Thus increased hydrogen bonding may provide the most general explanation for thermal stability in proteins. The number of ion pairs was also found to increase with thermal stability in two-thirds of the families tested; however, their rate of addition was only about one-sixth that for internal hydrogen bonds amongst the protein atoms. The preferred residue exchanges and surface atom types useful in engineering enhanced stability were also examined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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