The inverted chevron plot measured by NMR relaxation reveals a native-like unfolding intermediate in acyl-CoA binding protein

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The folding kinetics of bovine acyl-CoA binding protein was studied by N-15 relaxation dispersion measurements under equilibrium conditions. Relaxation dispersion profiles were measured at several concentrations of guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl). The unfolding rate constant (k(u)) was determined under conditions favoring folding, for which the folding rate constant (k(f)) dominates the relaxation in stopped-flow kinetic measurements. Conversely, k(f) was determined under conditions favoring unfolding, for which k(u) dominates stopped-flow data. The rates determined by NMR therefore complement those from stopped-flow kinetics and define an "inverted chevron" plot. The combination of NMR relaxation and stopped-flow kinetic measurements allowed determination of kf and k(u) in the range from 0.48 M GuHCl to 1.28 M GuHCl. Individually, the stopped-flow and NMR data fit two-state models for folding. However, although the values of kf determined by the two methods agree, the values of k(u) do not. As a result, a combined analysis of all data does not comply with a two-state model but indicates that an unfolding intermediate exists on the native side of the dominant energy barrier. The denaturant and temperature dependencies of the chemical shifts and k(u) indicate that the intermediate state is structurally similar to the native state. Equilibrium unfolding monitored by optical spectroscopy corroborate these conclusions. The temperature dependence of the chemical shifts identifies regions of the protein that are selectively destabilized in the intermediate. These results illustrate the power of combining stopped-flow kinetics and NMR spectroscopy to analyze protein folding.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Chemistry


  • flow, protein folding, kinetic analysis, NMR relaxation dispersion, stopped
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6877-6882
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch