[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regulation of protein function via cracking, or local unfolding and refolding of substructures, is becoming a widely recognized mechanism of functional control. Oftentimes, cracking events are localized to secondary and tertiary structure interactions between domains that control the optimal position for catalysis and/or the formation of protein complexes. Small changes in free energy associated with ligand binding, phosphorylation, etc., can tip the balance and provide a regulatory functional switch. However, understanding the factors controlling function in single-domain proteins is still a significant challenge to structural biologists. We investigated the functional landscape of a single-domain plant-type ferredoxin protein and the effect of a distal loop on the electron-transfer center. We find the global stability and structure are minimally perturbed with mutation, whereas the functional properties are altered. Specifically, truncating the L1,2 loop does not lead to large-scale changes in the structure, determined via X-ray crystallography. Further, the overall thermal stability of the protein is only marginally perturbed by the mutation. However, even though the mutation is distal to the iron-sulfur cluster (∼20 Å), it leads to a significant change in the redox potential of the iron-sulfur cluster (57 mV). Structure-based all-atom simulations indicate correlated dynamical changes between the surface-exposed loop and the iron-sulfur cluster-binding region. Our results suggest intrinsic communication channels within the ferredoxin fold, composed of many short-range interactions, lead to the propagation of long-range signals. Accordingly, protein interface interactions that involve L1,2 could potentially signal functional changes in distal regions, similar to what is observed in other allosteric systems.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences