Electrostatic Contributions to the Thermodynamics of Ribonuclease P Protein Folding

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Date

2016

Authors

Mosley, Pamela Lynnette

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Oas, Terrence

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Abstract

Electrostatic interactions are of fundamental importance in determining the structure and stability of macromolecules. For example, charge-charge interactions modulate the folding and binding of proteins and influence protein solubility. Electrostatic interactions are highly variable and can be both favorable and unfavorable. The ability to quantify these interactions is challenging but vital to understanding the detailed balance and major roles that they have in different proteins and biological processes. Measuring pKa values of ionizable groups provides a sensitive method for experimentally probing the electrostatic properties of a protein.

pKa values report the free energy of site-specific proton binding and provide a direct means of studying protein folding and pH-dependent stability. Using a combination of NMR, circular dichroism, and fluorescence spectroscopy along with singular value decomposition, we investigated the contributions of electrostatic interactions to the thermodynamic stability and folding of the protein subunit of Bacillus subtilis ribonuclease P, P protein. Taken together, the results suggest that unfavorable electrostatics alone do not account for the fact that P protein is intrinsically unfolded in the absence of ligand because the pKa differences observed between the folded and unfolded state are small. Presumably, multiple factors encoded in the P protein sequence account for its IUP property, which may play an important role in its function.

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Mosley, Pamela Lynnette (2016). Electrostatic Contributions to the Thermodynamics of Ribonuclease P Protein Folding. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12292.

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