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Multidimensional free energy surface of unfolding of HP-36: Microscopic origin of ruggedness

Ghosh, Rikhia and Roy, Susmita and Bagchi, Biman (2014) Multidimensional free energy surface of unfolding of HP-36: Microscopic origin of ruggedness. In: JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 141 (13).

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1063/1.4896762


The protein folding funnel paradigm suggests that folding and unfolding proceed as directed diffusion in a multidimensional free energy surface where a multitude of pathways can be traversed during the protein's sojourn from initial to final state. However, finding even a single pathway, with the detail chronicling of intermediates, is an arduous task. In this work we explore the free energy surface of unfolding pathway through umbrella sampling, for a small globular a-helical protein chicken-villin headpiece (HP-36) when the melting of secondary structures is induced by adding DMSO in aqueous solution. We find that the unfolding proceeds through the initial separation or melting of aggregated hydrophobic core that comprises of three phenylalanine residues (Phe7, Phe11, and Phe18). This separation is accompanied by simultaneous melting of the second helix. Unfolding is found to be a multistage process involving crossing of three consecutive minima and two barriers at the initial stage. At a molecular level, Phe18 is observed to reorient itself towards other hydrophobic grooves to stabilize the intermediate states. We identify the configuration of the intermediates and correlate the intermediates with those obtained in our previous works. We also give an estimate of the barriers for different transition states and observe the softening of the barriers with increasing DMSO concentration. We show that higher concentration of DMSO tunes the unfolding pathway by destabilizing the third minimum and stabilizing the second one, indicating the development of a solvent modified, less rugged pathway. The prime outcome of this work is the demonstration that mixed solvents can profoundly transform the nature of the energy landscape and induce unfolding via a modified route. A successful application of Kramer's rate equation correlating the free energy simulation results shows faster rate of unfolding with increasing DMSO concentration. This work perhaps presents the first systematic theoretical study of the effect of a chemical denaturant on the microscopic free energy surface and rates of unfolding of HP-36. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the AMER INST PHYSICS, CIRCULATION & FULFILLMENT DIV, 2 HUNTINGTON QUADRANGLE, STE 1 N O 1, MELVILLE, NY 11747-4501 USA
Department/Centre: Division of Chemical Sciences > Solid State & Structural Chemistry Unit
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2014 04:48
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2014 04:48
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/50366

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