An NMR Confirmation for Increased Folded State Entropy Following Loop Truncation

Previous studies conducted on flexible loop regions in proteins revealed that the energetic consequences of changing loop length predominantly arise from the entropic cost of ordering a loop during folding. However, in an earlier study of human acylphosphatase (hmAcP) using experimental and computational approaches, we showed that thermodynamic stabilization upon loop truncation can be attributed mainly to the increased entropy of the folded state. Here, using 15N NMR spectroscopy, we studied the effect of loop truncation on hmAcP backbone dynamics on the picosecond–nanosecond timescale with the aim of confirming the effect of folded state entropy on protein stability. NMR-relaxation-derived N–H squared generalized order parameters reveal that loop truncation results in a significant increase in protein conformational flexibility. Comparison of these results with previously acquired all-atom molecular dynamics simulation, analyzed here in terms of squared generalized NMR order parameters, demonstrates general agreement between the two methods. The NMR study not only provides direct evidence for the enhanced conformational entropy of the folded state of hmAcP upon loop truncation but also gives a quantitative measure of the observed effects.