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Dynamics of Equilibrium Folding and Unfolding Transitions of Titin Immunoglobulin Domain under Constant Forces

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journal contribution
posted on 18.03.2015, 00:00 by Hu Chen, Guohua Yuan, Ricksen S. Winardhi, Mingxi Yao, Ionel Popa, Julio M. Fernandez, Jie Yan
The mechanical stability of force-bearing proteins is crucial for their functions. However, slow transition rates of complex protein domains have made it challenging to investigate their equilibrium force-dependent structural transitions. Using ultra stable magnetic tweezers, we report the first equilibrium single-molecule force manipulation study of the classic titin I27 immunoglobulin domain. We found that individual I27 in a tandem repeat unfold/fold independently. We obtained the force-dependent free energy difference between unfolded and folded I27 and determined the critical force (∼5.4 pN) at which unfolding and folding have equal probability. We also determined the force-dependent free energy landscape of unfolding/folding transitions based on measurement of the free energy cost of unfolding. In addition to providing insights into the force-dependent structural transitions of titin I27, our results suggest that the conformations of titin immunoglobulin domains can be significantly altered during low force, long duration muscle stretching.