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Separating the Contribution of Translational and Rotational Diffusion to Protein Association

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journal contribution
posted on 02.11.2005, 00:00 by Yosef Yehuda Kuttner, Noga Kozer, Eugenia Segal, Gideon Schreiber, Gilad Haran
The association of two proteins is preceded by a mutual diffusional search in solution. The role of translational and rotational diffusion in this process has been studied theoretically for many years. However, systematic experimental verification of theoretical results is still lacking. We report here measurements of association rates of the proteins β-lactamase (TEM) and β-lactamase inhibitor protein (BLIP) in solutions of glycerol and poly(ethylene glycol) of increasing viscosity. We also measured translational and rotational diffusion in the same solutions, using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and fluorescence anisotropy, respectively. It is found that in glycerol both translational and rotational diffusion rates are inversely dependent on viscosity, as predicted by the classical Stokes−Einstein relations, while the association rate depends nonlinearly on viscosity. In contrast, the association rate depends only weakly on the viscosity of the polymer solutions, which results in a similar weak dependence of kon on viscosity. The data are modeled using the theory of diffusion-limited association. Deviations from the theory are explained by a short-range solute-induced repulsion between the proteins in glycerol solution and an attractive depletion interaction generated by the polymers. These results open the way to the creation of a unified framework for all nonspecific effects involved in the protein association process, as well as to better theoretical understanding of these effects. Further, they reflect on the complex factors controlling protein association within the crowded environment of cells and suggest that a high concentration of macromolecules does not significantly impede protein association.