Stabilizing salt-bridge enhances protein thermostability by reducing the heat capacity change of unfolding

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Abstract

Most thermophilic proteins tend to have more salt bridges, and achieve higher thermostability by up-shifting and broadening their protein stability curves. While the stabilizing effect of salt-bridge has been extensively studied, experimental data on how salt-bridge influences protein stability curves are scarce. Here, we used double mutant cycles to determine the temperature-dependency of the pair-wise interaction energy and the contribution of salt-bridges to ΔCp in a thermophilic ribosomal protein L30e. Our results showed that the pair-wise interaction energies for the salt-bridges E6/R92 and E62/K46 were stabilizing and insensitive to temperature changes from 298 to 348 K. On the other hand, the pair-wise interaction energies between the control long-range ion-pair of E90/R92 were negligible. The ΔCp of all single and double mutants were determined by Gibbs-Helmholtz and Kirchhoff analyses. We showed that the two stabilizing salt-bridges contributed to a reduction of ΔCp by 0.8-1.0 kJ mol-1 K-1. Taken together, our results suggest that the extra salt-bridges found in thermophilic proteins enhance the thermostability of proteins by reducing ΔCp, leading to the up-shifting and broadening of the protein stability curves. © 2011 Chan et al.

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Chan, C. H., Yu, T. H., & Wong, K. B. (2011). Stabilizing salt-bridge enhances protein thermostability by reducing the heat capacity change of unfolding. PLoS ONE, 6(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0021624

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