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Protein folding and stability investigated by fluorescence, circular dichroism (CD) , and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy: The flavodoxin story

van Mierlo, C.P.; Steensma, E.

Journal of Biotechnology 79(3): 281-298

2000


ISSN/ISBN: 0168-1656
PMID: 10867188
DOI: 10.1016/s0168-1656(00)00244-3
Accession: 011217507

In this review, the experimental results obtained on the folding and stability of Azotobacter vinelandii flavodoxin are summarised. By doing so, three main spectroscopic techniques used to investigate protein folding and stability are briefly introduced. These techniques are: circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, fluorescence emission spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy in combination with the hydrogen exchange methodology. Results on the denaturant-induced and thermal equilibrium unfolding of apoflavodoxin from A. vinelandii, i.e. flavodoxin in the absence of the riboflavin-5'-monophosphate (FMN) cofactor, are discussed. A scheme for the equilibrium unfolding of apoflavodoxin is presented which involves a relatively stable molten globule-like intermediate. Denaturant-induced apoflavodoxin (un)folding as followed at the residue-level by NMR shows that the transition of native A. vinelandii apoflavodoxin to its molten globule state is highly co-operative. However, the unfolding of the molten globule to the unfolded state of the protein is non-co-operative. A comparison of the folding of A. vinelandii flavodoxin with the folding of flavodoxin from Anaboena PCC 7119 is made. The local stabilities of apo- and holoflavodoxin from A. vinelandii as measured by NMR spectroscopy are compared. Both Che Y and cutinase, which have no sequence homology with apoflavodoxin but which share the flavodoxin-like topology, have stabilisation centres different from that of apoflavodoxin from A. vinelandii. The stable centres of structurally similar proteins can thus reside in different parts of the same protein topology. Insight in the variations in (local) unfolding processes of structurally similar proteins can be used to stabilise proteins with a flavodoxin-like fold. Finally, the importance of some recent experimental and theoretical developments for the study of flavodoxin folding is briefly discussed.

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