Abstract 0252


Devi, V. S., Binz, H. K., Stumpp, M. T., Plückthun, A., Bosshard, H. R., and Jelesarov, I. (2004). Folding of a designed simple ankyrin repeat protein. Protein Sci. 13, 2864-2870.


Ankyrin repeats (AR) are 33-residue motifs containing a beta-turn, followed by two alpha-helices connected by a loop. AR occur in tandem arrangements and stack side-by-side to form elongated domains involved in very different cellular tasks. Recently, consensus libraries of AR repeats were constructed. Protein E1_5 represents a member of the shortest library, and consists of only a single consensus repeat flanked by designed N- and C-terminal capping repeats. Here we present a biophysical characterization of this AR domain. The protein is compactly folded, as judged from the heat capacity of the native state and from the specific unfolding enthalpy and entropy. From spectroscopic data, thermal and urea-induced unfolding can be modeled by a two-state transition. However, scanning calorimetry experiments reveal a deviation from the two-state behavior at elevated temperatures. Folding and unfolding at 5 degrees C both follow monoexponential kinetics with k(folding) = 28 sec(-1) and k(unfolding) = 0.9 sec(-1). Kinetic and equilibrium unfolding parameters at 5 degrees C agree very well. We conclude that E1_5 folds in a simple two-state manner at low temperatures while equilibrium intermediates become populated at higher temperatures. A chevron-plot analysis indicates that the protein traverses a very compact transition state along the folding/unfolding pathway. This work demonstrates that a designed minimal ankyrin repeat protein has the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of a compactly folded protein, and explains the favorable properties of the consensus framework.

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