Identification and Characterization of an Inside-Out Folding Intermediate of T4 Phage Sliding Clamp
Protein folding process involves formation of transiently occurring intermediates that are difficult to isolate and characterize. It is both necessary and interesting to characterize the structural conformations adopted by these intermediates, also called molten globules (MG), to understand protein folding. Here, we investigated the equilibrium (un)folding intermediate state of T4 phage gene product 45 (gp45, also known as DNA polymerase processivity factor or sliding clamp) obtained during chemical denaturation. We show that gp45 undergoes substantial conformational rearrangement during unfolding and forms an expanded dry-MG. By monitoring the fluorescence of tryptophans that were strategically introduced at various sites, we demonstrate that the urea-treated molecule has its surface residues flip inside the core, and closely placed residues move farther. We were also able to isolate and purify the MG form of gp45 in native condition (i.e., nondenaturing buffer, at physiological pH and temperature); characteristics of this purified molecule substantially match with urea-treated wild-type gp45. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of the few reports that demonstrate the isolation and purification of a protein folding intermediate in native condition. We believe that our work not only allows us to dissect the process of protein folding, but will also help in the designing of folding inhibitors against sliding clamps to treat a wide variety of diseases from bacterial infection to cancer, due to the vast presence of clamps in all the domains of life.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30966-9
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