Over the past decade, the "protein engineering method" has been used to investigate the folding pathways of more than 20 different proteins. This method involves measuring the folding and unfolding rates of mutant proteins with single amino acid substitutions spread across the sequence. Comparison of folding rates of the mutant proteins to that of the wild-type protein allows the calculation of the Φ value, which can be used to evaluate the stabilizing contribution of an amino acid side chain to the structure of the folding transition state. Here, we review the methodology for analysing data collected in protein engineering folding kinetics studies. We discuss the calculation of folding rates and kinetic m values, the estimation of errors in folding kinetics experiments, Φ value calculation including potential pitfalls of the analysis, Brønsted plots, detecting Hammond behaviour, and the analysis of curved chevron plots. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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