Nanomechanics of Ankyrin Repeat Proteins
Ankyrin repeats (ARs) are polypeptide motifs identified in thousands of proteins. Many AR proteins play a function as scaffolds in protein-protein interactions which may require specific mechanical properties. Also, a number of AR proteins have been proposed to mediate mechanotransduction in a variety of different functional settings. The folding and stability of a number of AR proteins have been studied in detail by chemical and temperature denaturation experiments, yet the mechanic of AR proteins remain largely unknown. In this dissertation, we have researched the mechanical properties of AR proteins by using protein engineering and a combination of atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based single-molecule force spectroscopy and steered molecular dynamics (SMD) simulations. Three kinds of AR proteins were investigated: NI6C (synthetic AR protein), D34 (of ankyrin-R) and gankyrin (oncoprotein). While the main focus of this research was to characterize the response of AR proteins to mechanical forces, our results extended beyond the protein nanomechanics to the understanding of protein folding mechanisms.
DepartmentMechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Ankyrin repeat proteins
Atomic force microscope
Mechanical folding and unfolding
Single molecule force spectroscopy
Steered molecular dynamics
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