Author(s): Bandyopadhyay AK, Krishnamoorthy G, Sonawat HM
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Abstract The ferredoxin of the extreme haloarchaeon Halobacterium salinarum requires high (>2 M) concentration of salt for its stability. We have used a variety of spectroscopic probes for identifying the structural elements which necessitate the presence of high salt for its stability. Titration of either the fluorescence intensity of the tryptophan residues or the circular dichroism (CD) at 217 nm with salt has identified a structural form at low (<0.1 M) concentration of salt. This structural form (L) exhibits increased solvent exposure of W side chain(s) and decreased level of secondary structure compared to the native (N) protein at high concentrations of salt. The L-form, however, contains significantly higher levels of both secondary and tertiary structures compared to the form (U) found in highly denaturing conditions such as 8 M urea. The structural integrity of the L-form was highly pH dependent while that of N- or U-form was not. The pH dependence of either fluorescence intensity or CD of the L-form showed the presence of two apparent pK values: approximately 5 and approximately 10. The structural integrity of the L-form at low (<5) pH was very similar to that of the N-form. However, titration with denaturants showed that the low pH L-form is significantly less stable than the N-form. The increased destabilization of the L-form with the increase in pH was interpreted to be due to mutual Coulombic repulsion of carboxylate side chains (pK approximately 6) and due to the disruption of salt bridge(s) between ionized carboxylates and protonated amino groups (pK approximately 10). Estimation of solvent accessibility of W residues by fluorescence quenching, and measurement of decay kinetics of fluorescence intensity and anisotropy strongly support the above model. Polylysine interacted stoichiometrically with the L-form of ferredoxin resulting in nativelike structure. In conclusion, our studies show that high concentration of salt stabilizes the haloarchaeal ferredoxin in two ways: (i) neutralization of Coulombic repulsion among carboxyl groups of the acidic residues, and (ii) salting out of hydrophobic residues leading to their burial and stronger interaction.
This article was published in Biochemistry
and referenced in Biochemistry & Analytical Biochemistry