Optical spectroscopic properties of the covalently linked chromophores of biliproteins are profoundly influenced by the state of the protein. This has been used to monitor the urea-induced denaturation of C-phycocyanin (CPC) from Mastigocladus laminosus and its subunits. Under equilibrium conditions, absorption, fluorescence and circular dichroism of the chromophores were monitored, as well as the circular dichroism of the polypeptide. Treatment of CPC trimers (αβ)3 resulted first in monomerization (αβ), which was followed by a complex unfolding process of the protein. Loss of chromophore fluorescence is the next process at increasing urea concentrations; it indicates increased flexibility of the chromophore while maintaining the native, extended conformation, and a less compact but still native-like packing of the protein in the regions sampled by the chromophores. This was followed by relaxation of the chromophores from the energetically unfavorable extended to a cyclic-helical conformation, as reported by absorption and CD in the visible range, indicating local loss of protein structure. Only then is the protein secondary structure lost, as reported by the far-UV CD. Sequential processes were also seen in the subunits, where again the chromophore-protein interactions were reduced before the unfolding of the protein. It is concluded that the bilin chromophores are intrinsic probes suitable to differentiate among different processes involved in protein denaturation. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Kupka, M., & Scheer, H. (2008). Unfolding of C-phycocyanin followed by loss of non-covalent chromophore-protein interactions. 1. Equilibrium experiments. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics, 1777(1), 94–103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbabio.2007.10.009