Molecular dynamics simulation of the acidic compact state of apomyoglobin from yellowfin tuna

Proteins: Structure, Fuction, and Bioinformatics, 2009, 74, 273-290 published on 01.02.2009
Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics
A molecular model of the acidic compact state of apomyoglobin (A-state) from yellowfin tuna was obtained using molecular dynamics simulations (MD) by calculating multiple trajectories. To cause partial unfolding within a reasonable amount of CPU time, both an acidic environment (pH 3 and 0.15M NaCl) and a temperature jump to 500 K were needed. Twenty-five acidic structures of apomyoglobin were generated by MD, 10 of them can be clustered by RMSD in an average structure having a common hydrophobic core as was reported for acidic sperm whale apomyoglobin, with shortened helices A,G,E, and H (the helix A appears to be translated along the sequence). Prolonging the MD runs at 500 K did not cause further substantial unfolding, suggesting that the ensemble of generated structures is indicative of a region of the conformational space accessible to the apoprotein at acidic pH corresponding to a local energy minimum. The comparison of experimentally determined values of specific spectroscopic properties of the apomyoglobin in acidic salt conditions with the expected ones on the basis of the MD generated structures shows a reasonable agreement considering the characteristic uncertainties of both experimental and simulation techniques. We used frequency domain fluorometry, acrylamide fluorescence quenching, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy together with far UV circular dichroism to estimate the helical content, the Stern–Volmer quenching constant and the radius of gyration of the protein. Tuna apomyoglobin is a single tryptophan protein and thus, interpretation of its intrinsic fluorescence is simpler than for other proteins. The high sensitivity of the applied fluorescence techniques enabled experiments to be performed under very dilute conditions, that is, at concentrations of subnanomolar for the FCS measurements and 6 μM for the other fluorescence measurements. As high concentrations of proteins can strongly affect the association equilibrium among partially unfolded states, fluorescence techniques can provide complementary information with respect to other techniques requiring higher sample concentrations, such as NMR. The analysis of exposed hydrophobic regions in each of the MD-generated acidic structures reveals potential candidates involved in the aggregation processes of apomyoglobin in the acidic compact state. Our investigation represents an effective model system for studying amyloid fibril formation found in important diseases that are believed to proceed via aggregation of protein in the molten globule state. Proteins 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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