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Effect of the Compatible Solute Ectoine on the Stability of the Membrane Proteins

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Abstract:

Mechanical single molecule techniques offer exciting possibilities for investigating protein folding and stability in native environments at sub-nanometer resolutions. Compatible solutes show osmotic activity which even at molar concentrations do not interfere with cell metabolism. They are known to protect proteins against external stress like temperature, high salt concentrations and dehydrating conditions. We studied the impact of the compatible solute ectoine (1M) on membrane proteins by analyzing the mechanical properties of Bacteriorhodopsin (BR) in its presence and absence by single molecule force spectroscopy. The unfolding experiments on BR revealed that ectoine decreases the persistence length of its polypeptide chain thereby increasing its tendency to coil up. In addition, we found higher unfolding forces indicating strengthening of those intra molecular interactions which are crucial for stability. This shows that force spectroscopy is well suited to study the effect of compatible solutes to stabilize membrane proteins against unfolding. In addition, it may lead to a better understanding of their detailed mechanism of action.
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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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