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What determines protein folding type? An investigation of intrinsic structural properties and its implications for understanding folding mechanisms

What determines protein folding type? An investigation of intrinsic structural properties and its implications for understanding folding mechanisms

Journal of Molecular Biology 370(3): 439-448

ISSN/ISBN: 0022-2836

PMID: 17524416

DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2007.04.051

Protein folding experiments demonstrate that the folding behaviors of many proteins can be roughly classified into two types: two-state kinetics and multi-state kinetics. Although the two types of protein folding kinetics have been observed for a long time, what determines the folding type of a protein is still largely unclear. The present work performed a comparative study based on a dataset of 43 two-state and 42 multi-state folders at different levels of proteins' intrinsic properties from the simplest sequence length to native structure topology. The results show that protein's amino acids composition and the long-range interaction-based topological complexity rather than secondary structure contents are the major determinants of protein folding type. Furthermore, a sequence-based folding type prediction achieved an accuracy of more than 80%. These findings implicate that there is no clear boundary between secondary and tertiary structure formation during the protein folding process and support the existence of a continuum of folding mechanism between the two ends of hierarchic and nucleation folding scenarios.

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