Engineering diverse changes in beta-turn propensities in the N-terminal beta-hairpin of ubiquitin reveals significant effects on stability and kinetics but a robust folding transition state.

Research paper by Emma R ER Simpson, Jill K JK Meldrum, Mark S MS Searle

Indexed on: 29 Mar '06Published on: 29 Mar '06Published in: Biochemistry


Using the N-terminal 17-residue beta-hairpin of ubiquitin as a "host" for mutational studies, we have investigated the influence of the beta-turn sequence on protein stability and folding kinetics by replacing the native G-bulged turn (TLTGK) with more flexible analogues (TG3K and TG5K) and a series of four-residue type I' beta-turn sequences, commonly found in beta-hairpins. Although a statistical analysis of type I' turns demonstrates residue preferences at specific sites, the frequency of occurrence appears to only broadly correlate with experimentally determined protein stabilities. The subsequent engineering of context-dependent non-native tertiary contacts involving turn residues is shown to produce large changes in stability. Relatively few point mutations have been described that probe secondary structure formation in ubiquitin in a manner that is independent of tertiary contacts. To this end, we have used the more rigorous rate-equilibrium free energy relationship (Leffler analysis), rather than the two-point phi value analysis, to show for a family of engineered beta-turn mutants that stability (range of approximately 20 kJ/mol) and folding kinetics (190-fold variation in refolding rate) are linearly correlated (alpha(f) = 0.74 +/- 0.08). The data are consistent with a transition state that is robust with regard to a wide range of statistically favored and disfavored beta-turn mutations and implicate a loosely assembled beta-hairpin as a key template in transition state stabilization with the beta-turn playing a central role.