Residual structures in denatured proteins have acquired importance in recent years owing to their role as protein-folding initiation sites. Locating these structures in proteins has proved quite formidable, requiring techniques like NMR. Here in this report, we take advantage of the ubiquitous presence of tryptophan residues in residual structures to hunt for their presence using steady-state fluorescence spectroscopy. The surface accessibility and rotational dynamics of tryptophan in putative residual structures among ten different proteins, namely glucagon, melittin, subtilisin carlsberg, myelin basic protein, ribonuclease T1, human serum albumin, barstar mutant, bovine serum albumin, lysozyme and Trp-Met-Asp-Phe-NH2 peptide, was studied using steady state fluorescence quenching and anisotropy, respectively. Five proteins, namely ribonuclease T1, bovine serum albumin, melittin, barstar and hen egg white lysozyme appear likely to possess tryptophan(s) in hydrophobic clusters based on their reduced bimolecular quenching rates and higher steady-state anisotropy in proportion to their chain length. We also show that the fluorescence emission maximum of tryptophan is insensitive to the presence of residual structures.
Volume 135, 2023
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