Evidence for a three-state model of protein folding from kinetic analysis of ubiquitin variants with altered core residues.
Khorasanizadeh S., Peters ID., Roder H.
To elucidate the kinetic importance of structural intermediates in single-domain proteins, we measured the effect of solution conditions and amino-acid changes at a central core residue of ubiquitin (Val 26) on the kinetics of folding and unfolding. Kinetic analysis in terms of a sequential three-state mechanism provides insight into the contribution of specific interactions within the ubiquitin core to the structural stability of the native and intermediate states. The observations that disruptive mutations and/or addition of denaturants result in an apparent two-state folding process with slower rates is explained by the destabilization of a partially folded intermediate, which is in rapid equilibrium with unfolded states. The model predicts that under sufficiently stabilizing conditions kinetic intermediates may become populated even for proteins showing apparent two-state kinetics.