2Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Miklukho-Maklaya 16/10, 117871 Moscow, Russia; fax: (495) 336-2000; E-mail: email@example.com
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Received September 4, 2007; Revision received October 18, 2007
A number of residues in globins family are well conserved but are not directly involved in the primary oxygen-carrying function of these proteins. A possible role for these conserved, non-functional residues has been suggested in promoting a rapid and correct folding process to the native tertiary structure. To test this hypothesis, we have studied pH-induced equilibrium unfolding of mutant apomyoglobins with substitutions of the conserved residues Trp14 and Met131, which are not involved in the function of myoglobin, by various amino acids. This allowed estimating their impact on the stability of various conformational states of the proteins and selecting conditions for a folding kinetics study. The results obtained from circular dichroism, tryptophan fluorescence, and differential scanning microcalorimetry for these mutant proteins were compared with those for the wild type protein and for a mutant with the non-conserved Val17 substituted by Ala. In the native folded state, all of the mutant apoproteins have a compact globular structure, but are destabilized in comparison to the wild type protein. The pH-induced denaturation of the mutant proteins occurs through the formation of a molten globule-like intermediate similar to that of the wild type protein. Thermodynamic parameters for all of the proteins were calculated using the three state model. Stability of equilibrium intermediates at pH ~4.0 was shown to be slightly affected by the mutations. Thus, all of the above substitutions influence the stability of the native state of these proteins. The cooperativity of conformational transitions and the exposed to solvent protein surface were also changed, but not for the substitution at Val17.
KEY WORDS: apomyoglobin, conserved residues, protein stability, protein unfolding, intermediate state