Urea-induced conformational changes in cold- and heat-denatured states of a protein, Streptomyces subtilisin inhibitor

Protein Science : a Publication of the Protein Society
Takashi KonnoKazuyuki Akasaka


Streptomyces subtilisin inhibitor (SSI) is known to exist in at least two distinct denatured states, cold-denatured (D') and heat-denatured (D) under acidic conditions. In the present work, we investigated the manner how increasing urea concentration from 0 to 8 M changes the polypeptide chain conformation of SSI that exists initially in the D' and D states as well as in the native state (N), in terms of the secondary structure, the tertiary structure, and the chain form, based on the results of the experiments using circular dichroism (CD), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and 1H-NMR spectroscopy. Our results indicate that the urea-induced conformational transitions of SSI under typical conditions of D' (pH 1.8, 3 degrees C) occur at least in two steps. In the urea concentration range of 0-2 M (step 1), a cooperative destruction of the tertiary structure occurs, resulting in a mildly denatured state (DU), which may still contain a little amount of secondary structures. In the concentration range of 2-4 M urea (step 2), the DU state gradually loses its residual secondary structure, and increases the radius of gyration nearly to a maximum value. At 4 M urea, the polypeptide chain is highly disordered with highly mobile side c...Continue Reading


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