Pressure-Temperature Analysis of the Stability of the CTL9 Domain Reveals Hidden Intermediates Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/7652-4577-6342-3919-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2019


  • The observation of two-state unfolding for many small single-domain proteins by denaturants has led to speculation that protein sequences may have evolved to limit the population of partially folded states that could be detrimental to fitness. How such strong cooperativity arises from a multitude of individual interactions is not well understood. Here, we investigate the stability and folding cooperativity of the C-terminal domain of the ribosomal protein L9 in the pressure-temperature plane using site-specific NMR. In contrast to apparent cooperative unfolding detected with denaturant-induced and thermal-induced unfolding experiments and stopped-flow refolding studies at ambient pressure, NMR-detected pressure unfolding revealed significant deviation from two-state behavior, with a core region that was selectively destabilized by increasing temperature. Comparison of pressure-dependent NMR signals from both the folded and unfolded states revealed the population of at least one invisible excited state at atmospheric pressure. The core destabilizing cavity-creating I98A mutation apparently increased the cooperativity of the loss of folded-state peak intensity while also increasing the population of this invisible excited state present at atmospheric pressure. These observations highlight how local stability is subtly modulated by sequence to tune protein conformational landscapes and illustrate the ability of pressure- and temperature-dependent studies to reveal otherwise hidden states.


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