Compressing the free energy range of substructure stabilities in iso-1-cytochrome c

Michael G. Duncan, Michael D. Williams, Bruce E. Bowler

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36 Scopus citations


Evolutionary conservation of substructure architecture between yeast iso-1-cytochrome c and the well-characterized horse cytochrome c is studied with limited proteolysis, the alkaline conformational transition and global unfolding with guanidine-HCl. Mass spectral analysis of limited proteolysis cleavage products for iso-1-cytochrome c show that its least stable substructure is the same as horse cytochrome c. The limited proteolysis data yield a free energy of 3.8 ± 0.4 kcal mol-1 to unfold the least stable substructure compared with 5.05 ± 0.30 kcal mol-1 for global unfolding of iso-1-cytochrome c. Thus, substructure stabilities of iso-1-cytochrome c span only ∼1.2 kcal mol-1 compared with ∼8 kcal mol-1 for horse cytochrome c. Consistent with the less cooperative folding thus expected for the horse protein, the guanidine-HCl m-values are ∼3 kcal mol-1 M-1 versus ∼4.5 kcal mol-1M-1 for horse versus yeast cytochrome c. The tight free energy spacing of the yeast cytochrome c substructures suggests that its folding has more branch points than for horse cytochrome c. Studies on a variant of iso-1-cytochrome c with an H26N mutation indicate that the least and most stable substructures unfold sequentially and the two least stable substructures unfold independently as for horse cytochrome c. Thus, important aspects of the substructure architecture of horse cytochrome c, albeit compressed energetically, are preserved evolutionally in yeast iso-1-cytochrome c.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1164
Number of pages10
JournalProtein Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Alkaline transition
  • Evolutionary conservation
  • Folding cooperativity
  • Limited proteolysis
  • Protein folding
  • Protein substructures


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