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

Characterizing a partially folded intermediate of the villin headpiece domain under non-denaturing conditions: contribution of His41 to the pH-dependent stability of the N-terminal subdomain.

The contribution of interactions involving the imidazole ring of His41 to the pH-dependent stability of the villin headpiece (HP67) N-terminal subdomain has been investigated by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spin relaxation. NMR-derived backbone N-H order parameters (S2) for wild-type (WT) HP67 and H41Y HP67 indicate that reduced conformational flexibility of the N-terminal subdomain in WT HP67 is due to intramolecular interactions with the His41 imidazole ring. These interactions, together with desolvation effects, contribute to significantly depress the pKa of the buried imidazole ring in the native state. 15N R1rho relaxation dispersion data indicate that WT HP67 populates a partially folded intermediate state that is 10.9 kJ mol(-1) higher in free energy than the native state under non-denaturing conditions at neutral pH. The partially folded intermediate is characterized as having an unfolded N-terminal subdomain while the C-terminal subdomain retains a native-like fold. Although the majority of the residues in the N-terminal subdomain sample a random-coil distribution of conformations, deviations of backbone amide 1H and 15N chemical shifts from canonical random-coil values for residues within 5A of the His41 imidazole ring indicate that a significant degree of residual structure is maintained in the partially folded ensemble. The pH-dependence of exchange broadening is consistent with a linear three-state exchange model whereby unfolding of the N-terminal subdomain is coupled to titration of His41 in the partially folded intermediate with a pKa,I=5.69+/-0.07. Although maintenance of residual interactions with the imidazole ring in the unfolded N-terminal subdomain appears to reduce pKa,I compared to model histidine compounds, protonation of His41 disrupts these interactions and reduces the difference in free energy between the native state and partially folded intermediate under acidic conditions. In addition, chemical shift changes for residues Lys70-Phe76 in the C-terminal subdomain suggest that the HP67 actin binding site is disrupted upon unfolding of the N-terminal subdomain, providing a potential mechanism for regulating the villin-dependent bundling of actin filaments.[1]


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