Protein stability in ice

Biophysical Journal
G B Strambini, Margherita Gonnelli


This study presents an experimental approach, based on the change of Trp fluorescence between native and denatured states of proteins, which permits to monitor unfolding equilibria and the thermodynamic stability (DeltaG degrees ) of these macromolecules in frozen aqueous solutions. The results obtained by guanidinium chloride denaturation of the azurin mutant C112S from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in the temperature range from -8 to -16 degrees C, demonstrate that the stability of the native fold may be significantly perturbed in ice depending mainly on the size of the liquid water pool (V(L)) in equilibrium with the solid phase. The data establish a threshold, around V(L)=1.5%, below which in ice DeltaG degrees decreases progressively relative to liquid state, up to 3 kcal/mole for V(L)=0.285%. The sharp dependence of DeltaG degrees on V(L) is consistent with a mechanism based on adsorption of the protein to the ice surface. The reduction in DeltaG degrees is accompanied by a corresponding decrease in m-value indicating that protein-ice interactions increase the solvent accessible surface area of the native fold or reduce that of the denatured state, or both. The method opens the possibility for examining in a more quantitative f...Continue Reading


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