Turn scanning by site-directed mutagenesis: Application to the protein folding problem using the intestinal fatty acid binding protein

Keehyuk Kim, Carl Frieden

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We have systematically mutated residues located in turns between β- strands of the intestinal fatty acid binding protein (IFABP), and a glycine in a half turn, to valine and have examined the stability, refolding rate constants and ligand dissociation constants for each mutant protein. IFABP is an almost all β-sheet protein exhibiting a topology comprised of two five- stranded sheets surrounding a large cavity into which the fatty acid ligand binds. A glycine residue is located in seven of the eight turns between the antiparallel β-strands and another in a half turn of a strand connecting the front and back sheets. Mutations in any of the three turns connecting the last four C-terminal strands slow the folding and decrease stability with the mutation between the last two strands slowing folding dramatically. These data suggest that interactions between the last four C-terminal strands are highly cooperative, perhaps triggered by an initial hydrophobic collapse. We suggest that this trigger is collapse of the highly hydrophobic cluster of amino acids in the D and E strands, a region previously shown to also affect the last stage of the folding process (Kim et al., 1997). Changing the glycine in the strand between the front and back sheets also results in a unstable, slow folding protein perhaps disrupting the D-E strand interactions. For most of the other turn mutations there was no apparent correlation between stability and refolding rate constants. In some turns, the interaction between strands, rather than the turn type, appears to be critical for folding while in others, turn formation itself appears to be a rate limiting step. Although there is no simple correlation between turn formation and folding kinetics, we propose that turn scanning by mutagenesis will be a useful tool for issues related to protein folding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1821-1828
Number of pages8
JournalProtein Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1998


  • Fatty acid binding
  • Turn mutations
  • β-Sheet protein folding and stability


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