Cooperative Unfolding of Residual Structure in Heat Denatured Proteins by Urea and Guanidinium Chloride

July 28, 2017


Cooperative Unfolding of Residual Structure in Heat Denatured Proteins by Urea and Guanidinium Chloride


Ritu Singh, Md. Imtaiyaz Hassan, Asimul Islam, Faizan Ahmad






The denatured states of proteins have always attracted our attention due to the fact that the denatured state is the only experimentally achievable state of a protein, which can be taken as initial reference state for considering the in vitro folding and defining the native protein stability. It is known that heat and guanidinium chloride (GdmCl) give structurally different states of RNase-A, lysozyme, α-chymotrypsinogen A and α-lactalbumin. On the contrary, differential scanning calorimetric (DSC) and isothermal titration calorimetric measurements, reported in the literature, led to the conclusion that heat denatured and GdmCl denatured states are thermodynamically and structurally identical. In order to resolve this controversy, we have measured changes in the far-UV CD (circular dichroism) of these heat-denatured proteins on the addition of different concentrations of GdmCl. The observed sigmoidal curve of each protein was analyzed for Gibbs free energy change in the absence of the denaturant (ΔG0X→D) associated with the process heat denatured (X) state ↔ GdmCl denatured (D) state. To confirm that this thermodynamic property represents the property of the protein alone and is not a manifestation of salvation effect, we measured urea-induced denaturation curves of these heat denatured proteins under the same experimental condition in which GdmCl-induced denaturation was carried out. In this paper we report that (a) heat denatured proteins contain secondary structure, and GdmCl (or urea) induces a cooperative transition between X and D states, (b) for each protein at a given pH and temperature, thermodynamic cycle connects quantities, ΔG0N→X (native (N) state ↔ X state), ΔG0X→D and ΔG0N→D (N state ↔ D state), and (c) there is not a good enthalpy difference between X and D states, which is the reason for the absence of endothermic peak in DSC scan for the transition, X state ↔ D state.




Circular dichroism, Protein folding, Protein denaturation, Thermodynamics, Secondary structure, Biochemistry