Cavity-filling mutations enhance protein stability by lowering the free energy of native state

Minoru Saito, Hidetoshi Kono, Hisayuki Morii, Hatsuho Uedaira, Tahir H. Tahirov, Kazuhiro Ogata, Akinori Sarai

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13 Scopus citations


The stabilization of proteins due to cavity-filling mutations are thought to be attributable to removal of hydrophobia residues from solvent exposure in denatured (D) state and formation of close packing in native (N) state. However, it is still unclear which contribution is dominant to stabilize proteins, because experiments can probe only the free energy difference between the two states (N and D). To address this question, we carried out molecular dynamics simulations, circular dichroism (CD) measurements, and X-ray crystallographic experiments on the cavity-filling mutations of the DNA-binding domain of the Myb transcriptional regulator. The cavity size was altered by systematic natural and nonnatural amino acid substitutions at a fixed site. The stability free energy change (ΔΔG(N→D;W→M)) and the cavity-size change (ΔV) calculated for the mutations agreed with the experimental data observed by urea-titration/CD measurements and crystallographic structure analysis, respectively. We found that the experimental ΔΔG values correlate well with the calculated nativestate free energy change due to mutations ΔG(N;W→M) and with ΔV (their correlation coefficients are larger than 0.9) but not with the denatured-state ΔG(D;W→M). These results demonstrated that the decrease in cavity size increases the protein stability by lowering the free energy of native state for this protein. We discussed physicochemical meanings of our calculation results for ΔG(N;W→M) and ΔG(D;W→M).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3705-3711
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 20 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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