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Folding pattern of the alpha-crystallin domain in alphaA-crystallin determined by site-directed spin labeling.


Koteiche HAH A , Mchaourab HS H S . Journal of molecular biology. 1999 11 26; 294(2). 561-77


The folding pattern of the alpha-crystallin domain, a conserved protein module encoding the molecular determinants of structure and function in the small heat-shock protein superfamily, was determined in the context of the lens protein alphaA-crystallin by systematic application of site-directed spin labeling. The sequence-specific secondary structure was assigned primarily from nitroxide scanning experiments in which the solvent accessibility and mobility of a nitroxide probe were measured as a function of residue number. Seven beta-strands were identified and their orientation relative to the aqueous solvent determined, thus defining the residues lining the hydrophobic core. The pairwise packing of adjacent strands in the primary structure was deduced from patterns of proximities in nitroxide pairs with one member on the exposed surface of each strand. In addition to identifying supersecondary structures, these proximities revealed that the seven strands are arranged in two beta-sheets. The overall packing of the two sheets was determined by application of the general rules of protein structure and from proximities in nitroxide pairs designed to distinguish between known all beta-sheet folds. Our data are consistent with an immunoglobulin-like fold consisting of two aligned beta-sheets. Comparison of this folding pattern to that of the evolutionary distant alpha-crystallin domain in Methanococcus jannaschii heat-shock protein 16.5 reveals a conserved core structure with the differences sequestered at one edge of the beta-sandwich. A beta-strand deletion in alphaA-crystallin disrupts a subunit interface and allows for a different dimerization motif. Putative substrate binding regions appear to include a buried loop and a buried turn, suggesting that the chaperone function involves a disassembly of the oligomer.