Structure and dynamics of the α-lactalbumin molten globule: Fluorescence studies using proteins containing a single tryptophan residue

S. Chakraborty, V. Ittah, P. Bai, L. Luo, E. Haas, Z. Y. Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

The fluorescence properties of three variants of α-lactalbumin (α-LA) containing a single tryptophan residue were investigated under native, molten globule, and unfolded conditions. These proteins have levels of secondary structure and stability similar to those of the wild type. The fluorescence signal in the native state is dominated by that of W104, with the signal of W60 and W118 significantly quenched by the disulfide bonds in their vicinity. In the molten globule state, the magnitude of the fluorescence signal of W60 and W118 increases, due to the loss of rigid, specific side chain packing. In contrast, the magnitude of the signal of W104 decreases in the molten globule state, perhaps due to the protonation of H107 or quenching by D102 or K108. The solvent accessibilities of individual tryptophan residues were investigated by their fluorescence emission maximum and by acrylamide quenching studies. In the native state, the order of solvent accessibility is as follows: W118 > W60 > W104. This order changes to W60 > W 104 > W118 in the molten globule state. Remarkably, the solvent accessibility of W118 in the α-LA molten globule is lower than that in the native state. The dynamic properties of the three tryptophan residues were examined by time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy decay studies. The overall rotation of the molecule can be observed in both the native and molten globule states. In the molten globule state, there is an increase in the extent of local backbone fluctuations with respect to the native state. However, the fluctuation is not sufficient to result in complete motional averaging. The three tryptophan residues in the native and molten globule states have different degrees of motional freedom, reflecting the folding pattern and dynamic heterogeneity of these states. Taken together, these studies provide new insight into the structure and dynamics of the α-LA molten globule, which serves as a prototype for partially folded proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7228-7238
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemistry
Volume40
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - 19 Jun 2001

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Institute of General Medical SciencesR29GM054533

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