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Biophys J. 1998 Jul;75(1):463-70.

Determination of the volume changes for pressure-induced transitions of apomyoglobin between the native, molten globule, and unfolded states.

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School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The volume change for the transition from the native state of horse heart apomyoglobin to a pressure-induced intermediate with fluorescence properties similar to those of the well-established molten globule or I form was measured to be -70 ml/mol. Complete unfolding of the protein by pressure at pH 4.2 revealed an upper limit for the unfolding of the intermediate of -61 ml/mol. At 0.3 M guanidine hydrochloride, the entire transition from native to molten globule to unfolded state was observed in the available pressure range below 2.5 kbar. The volume change for the N-->I transition is relatively large and does not correlate well with the changes in relative hydration for these transitions derived from measurements of the changes in heat capacity, consistent with the previously observed lack of correlation between the m-value for denaturant-induced transitions and the measured volume change of unfolding for cooperativity mutants of staphylococcal nuclease (Frye et al. 1996. Biochemistry. 35:10234-10239). Our results support the hypothesis that the volume change associated with the hydration of protein surface upon unfolding may involve both positive and negative underlying contributions that effectively cancel, and that the measured volume changes for protein structural transitions arise from another source, perhaps the elimination of void volume due to packing defects in the structured chains.

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