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Secondary structure and temperature-induced unfolding and refolding of ribonuclease T1 in aqueous solution: a Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic study

Item Type:Article
Title:Secondary structure and temperature-induced unfolding and refolding of ribonuclease T1 in aqueous solution: a Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic study
Creators Name:Fabian, H. and Schultz, C. and Naumann, D. and Landt, O. and Hahn, U. and Saenger, W.
Abstract:The secondary structure of ribonuclease T1 (RNase T1) in aqueous solution and its temperature-induced structural changes have been investigated by Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. 13 to 14% alpha-helix and 32 to 33% beta-sheet were estimated from the resolution-enhanced FT-IR spectra, in agreement with the crystal structure which indicates 16% alpha-helix and 35% beta-sheet. Specific IR-marker bands are assigned to the different beta-sheet structures, to the slightly bent alpha-helix, and to beta-turn and irregular conformations present in RNase T1. The temperature dependence of the infrared spectra shows that the thermal unfolding and refolding of RNase T1 is fully reversible. This permitted the detailed analysis of structural changes that occur as a function of temperature by evaluating quantitatively the various secondary structure-related amide I band components and some amino acid side-chain vibrations as specific monitors. The secondary structure of RNase T1 is essentially retained in the temperature range between 20 and 50 degrees C. Significant perturbation of protein structure is initiated between 50 and 55 degrees C within regions of beta-sheet structures while the alpha-helix remains virtually intact up to 55 degrees C suggesting a "premelting" of RNase T1. Between 55 and 60 degrees C, a highly co-operative unfolding process is indicated by the simultaneous breakdown of all secondary structure components and by distinct changes of some specific side-chain vibrations. An analysis of the amide I band contour of RNase T1 at 70 degrees C proves that the unfolded state is predominantly, but not completely, irregular or "random coil". Residual, turn-like structures persisting even in the unfolded state are suggested by minor, turn related band components in the amide I region. From IR-spectra collected along a linear temperature gradient, intensity/temperature and frequency/temperature profiles were constructed using some peptide backbone and amino acid side-chain marker bands as local, structure-sensitive monitors. From these profiles individual transition temperatures tm and transition enthalpies delta H (van't Hoff) were calculated. The tm and delta H values revealed a small but distinct hysteresis between repetitive cycles of unfolding and refolding of the protein, suggesting slow refolding kinetics of RNase T1. Furthermore, the various infrared "marker bands" indicate a slightly different response towards temperature increase/decrease for different regions of the protein. The data demonstrate that infrared spectroscopy permits both the detailed analysis of structural changes occurring in a protein as a function of temperature and the determination of thermodynamic parameters characterizing its folded/unfolded state transition.
Keywords:Protein Folding, Ribonuclease T1, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Protein Aggregation, Secondary Structure
Source:Journal of Molecular Biology
ISSN:0022-2836
Publisher:Elsevier (The Netherlands)
Volume:232
Number:3
Page Range:967-981
Date:5 August 1993
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1006/jmbi.1993.1442
PubMed:View item in PubMed

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