Slow Interconversion in a Heterogeneous Unfolded-State Ensemble of Outer-Membrane Phospholipase A
Structural and dynamic investigations of unfolded proteins are important for understanding protein-folding mechanisms as well as the interactions of unfolded polypeptide chains with other cell components. In the case of outer-membrane proteins (OMPs), unfolded-state properties are of particular physiological relevance, because these proteins remain unfolded for extended periods of time during their biogenesis and rely on interactions with binding partners to support proper folding. Using a combination of ensemble and single-molecule spectroscopy, we have scrutinized the unfolded state of outer-membrane phospholipase A (OmpLA) to provide a detailed view of its structural dynamics on timescales from nanoseconds to milliseconds. We find that even under strongly denaturing conditions and in the absence of residual secondary structure, OmpLA populates an ensemble of slowly (>100 ms) interconverting and conformationally heterogeneous unfolded states that lack the fast chain-reconfiguration motions expected for an unstructured, fully unfolded chain. The drastically slowed sampling of potentially folding-competent states, as compared with a random-coil polypeptide, may contribute to the slow in vitro folding kinetics observed for many OMPs. In vivo, however, slow intramolecular long-range dynamics might be advantageous for entropically favored binding of unfolded OMPs to chaperones and, by facilitating conformational selection after release from chaperones, for preserving binding-competent conformations before insertion into the outer membrane.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30576-3
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