2Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Berlin, Germany
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received July 10, 1997
Structures of proteins in unfolded states have important implications for the protein folding problem and for the translocation of polypeptide chains. Acid-denatured, cold-denatured, and 6 M guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) denatured yeast phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) are ensembles of flexible unfolded molecules with rapidly interconverting structures of the individual polypeptide chains. They differ, however, in their physical properties, such as in coil size and in stiffness over a short distance along the chain. These properties of polypeptide chains can be described well by persistence statistics. A solution containing 0.7 M GuHCl at 4.5°C is nearly a Theta-solvent for PGK. By contrast, 6 M GuHCl is a good solvent for PGK. Acid-denatured PGK at low ionic strength has the most expanded and stiffest chains. The conformation of heat-denatured PGK should be more compact than that of random walk chains at the Theta-point, as can be inferred from measurements on other proteins. Investigations of heat-denatured PGK by scattering methods are unfeasible due to aggregation of the protein. The persistence length as a measure of chain stiffness varies between a = 1.74 nm for cold-denatured PGK and a = 3.0 nm for acid-denatured PGK. The distribution functions of the gyration radii were calculated from the X-ray scattering data for all unfolded states and compared with the radius of gyration of the natively folded molecule.
KEY WORDS: yeast phosphoglycerate kinase, acid denaturation, cold denaturation, circular dichroism, X-ray scattering, dynamic light scattering