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Protein Core Adaptability: Crystal Structures of the Cavity-Filling Variants of Escherichia coli RNase HI

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It has generally been accepted that an increase in protein stability is proportional to the increase in hydrophobicity. When a cavity is created by large-to-small substitutions of amino acid residues in protein cores, protein stability decreases 5.3 kJ/mol per single methyl(ene) group removal. In contrast, many reported cavity-filling mutations either failed to increase stability or produced marginal increases in stability; even in successful cases, the increase in stability was much lower than expected from the cost of single methyl(ene) group removal in cavity-creating mutations. Previously it was found that some cavity-filling mutant proteins at Ala52 in E. coli RNase HI increased stability, but decreased activity and they did not increase the stability to the degree expected by the hydrophobic effect alone. The present study attempted to structurally analyze these variant proteins, and it was found that substitutions have little effect on the overall fold but cause conformational strains with the neighboring residues. The present results and literature on cavity-creating/- filling variants provide insight into protein architecture, indicating that natural protein cores are able to accommodate larger side-chain residue by substitution; in other words, excess-packing may not be chosen in natural selection.

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Keywords: Protein stability; cavity; hydrophobic residue; protein core; protein structure

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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