cold shock domain
nucleic acid binding
Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
In the cold-shock protein CspB from Bacillus subtilis three exposed Phe residues (F15, F17, and F27) are essential for its function in binding to single-stranded nucleic acids. Usually, the hydrophobic Phe side chains are buried in folded proteins. We asked here whether the exposition of the essential Phe residues could be a cause for the very low conformational stability of CspB. Urea-induced and heat-induced equilibrium unfolding transitions were measured for three mutants of CspB, where Phe 15, Phe 17, and Phe 27 were individually replaced by alanine. Unexpectedly, all three mutations strongly destabilized CspB. The aromatic side chains of Phe 15, Phe 17, and Phe 27 in the active site are thus important for both binding to nucleic acids and conformational stability. There is no compromise between function and stability in the active site. Model calculations indicate that, although they are partially exposed to solvent, all three Phe residues nevertheless lose accessible surface upon folding, and this should favor the native state. A different result is obtained with the F38A variant. Phe 38 is hyperexposed in native CspB, and its substitution by Ala is in fact stabilizing. Proteins 30:401-406, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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