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Lecture 13

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Department
Biology (Sci)
Course
BIOL 200
Professor
Mathieu Roy
Semester
Winter

Description
Folding is a directed search of conformational space allowing the protein to fold on a biologically feasible time scale. The Levinthal paradox states that if an averaged sized protein would sample all possible conformations before finding the one with the lowest energy, the whole process would take billions of years. Proteins typically fold within 0.1 and 1000 seconds. Therefore, the protein folding process must be directed some way through a specific folding pathway. The forces that direct this search are likely to be a combination of local and global influences whose effects are felt at various stages of the reaction. Advances in experimental and theoretical studies have shown that folding can be viewed in terms of energy landscapes, where folding kinetics is considered as a progressive organisation of an ensemble of partially folded structures through which a protein passes on its way to the folded structure. This has been described in terms of a folding funnel, in which an unfolded protein has a large number of conformational states available and there are fewer states available to the folded protein. A funnel implies that for protein folding there is a decrease in energy and loss of entropy with increasing tertiary structure formation. The local roughness of the funnel reflects kinetic traps, corresponding to the accumulation of misfolded intermediates. A folding chain progresses toward lower intra-chain free-energies by increasing its compactness. The chains conformational options become increasingly narrowed ultimately toward one native structure. The organisation of large proteins by structural domains represents an advantage for protein folding, with each domain being able to individually fold, accelerating the folding process and reducing a potentially large combination of residue interactions. Furthermore, given the observed random distribution of hydrophobic residues in proteins, domain formation appears to be the optimal solution for a large protein to bury its hydrophobic residues while keeping the hydrophilic residues at the surface. However, the role of inter-domain interactions in protein folding and in energetics of stabilisation of the native structure, probably differs for each protein. In T4 lysozyme, the influence of one domain on the other is so strong that the entire molecule is resistant to proteolytic cleavage. In this case, folding is a sequential process where the C-terminal domain is required to fold independently in an early step, and the other domain requires the presence of the folded C-terminal domain for folding and stabilisation. It has been found that the folding of an isolated domain can take place at the same rate or sometimes faster than that of the integrated domain, suggesting that unfavourable interactions with the rest of the protein can occur during folding. Several arguments suggest that the slowest step in the folding of large
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