Protein Folding Studies on the Ribosomal Protein S6: the Role of Entropy in Nucleation
Sammanfattning: One of the most challenging tasks remaining in the field of biochemistry is the one of understanding how the information within the amino acid sequence of proteins translates into a unique structure. Solving this problem would lead to endless possibilities for application in the medical and biotechnology industry.Many decades ago scientists realized that the process that facilitates the folding of a polypeptide chain could not be random and happen by chance; there needs to be direction in the folding free energy landscape. This landscape is defined by the thermodynamic factors entropy and enthalpy. The contribution made by enthalpy i.e. the contact energies from intra- and intermolecular interactions have been extensively investigated by various mutational studies. The influence of entropy on the other hand, is less well understood. My work focuses on the effect of altering the entropic components of forming the various parts of a known protein scaffold. This is done by genetic engineering in combination with biophysical characterisation and analysis. The results show effects on protein folding rates as well as on the pathway for nucleation and emphasis the ability of the folding landscape to readjust to entropic variations. Proteins are therefore not required to fold along a unique route to their final structure but can do so in several ways. The folding pathways we observe today have hence likely evolved as an adaptation to biological demands.
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