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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Penetration of analogues of H2O and CO2 in proteins studied by room temperature phosphorescence of tryptophan.

The influence of the protein matrix on the reactivity of external molecules with a species buried within the protein interior is considered in two general ways: (1) there may be structural fluctuations that allow for the diffusive penetration of the small molecules and/or (2) the external molecule may react over a distance. As a means to study the protein matrix, a reactive species within the protein can be formed by exciting tryptophan to the triplet state, and then the reaction of the triplet-state molecule with an external molecule can be monitored by a decrease in phosphorescence. In this work, the quenching ability (i.e., reactivity) was examined for H2S, CS2, and NO2- acting on tryptophan phosphorescence in parvalbumin, azurin, horse liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and alkaline phosphatase. A comparison of charged versus uncharged quenchers (H2S vs SH- and CS2 vs NO2-) reveals that the uncharged molecules are much more effective than charged species in quenching the phosphorescence of fully buried tryptophan, whereas the quenching for exposed tryptophan is relatively independent of the charge of the quencher. This is consistent with the view that uncharged triatomic molecules can penetrate the protein matrix to some extent. The energies of activation of the quenching reaction are low for the charged quenchers and higher for the uncharged CS2. A model is presented in which the quenchability of a buried tryptophan is inversely related to the distance from the surface when diffusion through the protein is the rate-limiting step.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)[1]


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