TitleSecondary Structural Change Can Occur Diffusely and Not Modularly during Protein Folding and Unfolding Reactions.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMalhotra P, Udgaonkar JB
JournalJ Am Chem Soc
Date Published2016 May 11

A major goal of protein folding studies is to understand the structural basis of the coupling between stabilizing interactions, which leads to cooperative conformational change. The goal is challenging because of the difficulty in simultaneously measuring global cooperativity by determining population distributions of the conformations present, and the structures of these conformations. Here, hydrogen exchange (HX) into the small protein monellin was carried out under conditions where structure-opening is rate limiting for most backbone amide sites. Detection by mass spectrometry allowed characterization of not only segment-specific structure-opening rates but also the cooperativity of unfolding of the different secondary structural segments of the protein. The segment-specific pattern of HX reveals that the backbone hydrogen-bonding network disassembles in a structurally diffuse, asynchronous manner. A comparison of the site-specific transient opening rates of secondary and tertiary structure in the protein provides a structural rationale for the observation that unfolding is hierarchical and describable by exponential kinetics, despite being diffuse. Since unfolding was studied in native conditions, the sequence of events during folding in the same conditions will be the reverse of the sequence of events observed during unfolding. Hence, the formation of secondary structural units during folding would also occur in a non-cooperative, diffuse, and asynchronous manner.

Alternate JournalJ. Am. Chem. Soc.
PubMed ID27093885