Section 42
Chapter 41,285

Role of diffusion in the folding of the alpha subunit of tryptophan synthase from Escherichia coli

Chrunyk, B.A.; Matthews, C.R.

Biochemistry 29(8): 2149-2154


ISSN/ISBN: 0006-2960
PMID: 2183877
DOI: 10.1021/bi00460a027
Accession: 041284498

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The rate-limiting step in the folding of the alpha subunit of tryptophan synthase has been proposed to be the association of two folding units. To probe the role of diffusion in this rate-limiting step, the urea-induced unfolding and refolding of the protein was examined in the presence of a number of viscosity-enhancing agents. The analysis was simplified by studying the effect of these agents on folding unit dissociation, the rate-limiting unfolding reaction, and the reverse of the rate-limiting step in refolding. In the presence of ethylene glycol, the relaxation times for unfolding to the same final conditions increased with increasing concentration of the cosolvent. When the effects of the cosolvent on protein stability were taken into account, the rates were found to show a unitary linear dependence on the viscosity of the solution. Similar results were obtained with glycerol and low concentrations of glucose, demonstrating that the effect is general and not specific to any viscogenic agent. These results clearly demonstrate that the rate-limiting folding unit association/dissociation reaction in the alpha subunit of tryptophan synthase involves a diffusional process.

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