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Structural and Energetic Determinants of Thermal Stability and Hierarchical Unfolding Pathways of Hyperthermophilic Proteins, Sac7d and Sso7d

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journal contribution
posted on 04.02.2010, 00:00 by U. Deva Priyakumar, S. Ramakrishna, K. R. Nagarjuna, S. Karunakar Reddy
Identification of the structural and energetic determinants responsible for enhancing the stability of proteins is crucial. Hyperthermophilic proteins are naturally occurring proteins that exhibit high thermal stability and are good candidates for the investigation and understanding of structure−stability relationships. Sac7d from Sulfolobus acidocaldarius and Sso7d from Sulfolobus solfactaricus are two homologous hyperthermophilic proteins that were shown to be quite stable at high temperatures. Molecular dynamics simulations at the nanosecond time scale at different temperatures were performed to examine the factors affecting their stability. The three-dimensional structures of these proteins were observed to be similar to the experimental structure at 300 and 360 K but were found to undergo denaturation at 500 K. Both proteins exhibit similar unfolding pathways that correlates well with the calculated intermolecular interaction energies. The differential dynamic behaviors of these molecules at different temperatures were examined. Structural and energetic analysis of the contributions of salt bridges indicates a stabilizing effect at higher temperatures. However, the lifetimes of the salt bridges were found to be quite short, and several new salt bridges formed at 500 K supporting previous studies that the desolvation penalty due to the formation of salt bridges decreases at elevated temperatures. Hydrophobic interactions, which decrease with increase in temperature, were also found to be crucial in the stability of these proteins. Overall, the study shows that a balance among the salt bridge interactions, hydrophobic interactions, and solvent properties is primarily responsible for the high thermal stability of this class of proteins.