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Computer-based redesign of a protein folding pathway.

Nature Structural Biology 8(7):602 (2001) PMID 11427890

A fundamental test of our current understanding of protein folding is to rationally redesign protein folding pathways. We use a computer-based design strategy to switch the folding pathway of protein G, which normally involves formation of the second, but not the first, beta-turn at the rate limiting step in folding. Backbone conformations and amino acid sequences that maximize the interaction density in the first beta-hairpin were identified, and two variants containing 11 amino acid replacements were found to be approximately 4 kcal mol-1 more stable than wild type protein G. Kinetic studies show that the redesigned proteins fold approximately 100 x faster than wild type protein and that the first beta-turn is formed and the second disrupted at the rate limiting step in folding.