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J Mol Biol. 2010 Apr 2;397(3):789-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2010.01.071. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

A survey of lambda repressor fragments from two-state to downhill folding.

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Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


We survey the two-state to downhill folding transition by examining 20 lambda(6-85)* mutants that cover a wide range of stabilities and folding rates. We investigated four new lambda(6-85)* mutants designed to fold especially rapidly. Two were engineered using the core remodeling of Lim and Sauer, and two were engineered using Ferreiro et al.'s frustratometer. These proteins have probe-dependent melting temperatures as high as 80 degrees C and exhibit a fast molecular phase with the characteristic temperature dependence of the amplitude expected for downhill folding. The survey reveals a correlation between melting temperature and downhill folding previously observed for the beta-sheet protein WW domain. A simple model explains this correlation and predicts the melting temperature at which downhill folding becomes possible. An X-ray crystal structure with a 1.64-A resolution of a fast-folding mutant fragment shows regions of enhanced rigidity compared to the full wild-type protein.

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