Istituto di Biofisica     
Gonnelli M., Strambini G. B. No effect of trimethylamine N-oxide on the internal dynamics of the protein native fold. In: Biophysical Chemistry, vol. 89 (1) pp. 77 - 85. Elsevier, 2001.
Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) is a natural osmolyte accumulated in cells of organisms as they adapt to environmental stresses. In vitro, TMAO increases protein stability and forces partially unfolded structures to refold. Its effects on the native fold are unknown. To investigate the interrelationship between protein stability, internal dynamics and function, the influence of TMAO on the flexibility of the native fold was examined with four different proteins by Trp phosphorescence spectroscopy. Its influence on conformational dynamics was assessed by both the intrinsic phosphorescence lifetime, which reports on the local structure about the triplet probe, and the acrylamide bimolecular quenching rate constant that is a measure of the average acrylamide diffusion coefficient through the macromolecule. The results demonstrate that for apoazurin, alcohol dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and glyceraldehydes-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 1.8 M TMAO does not perturb the flexibility of these macromolecules in a temperature range between −10C and up to near the melting temperature. This unexpected finding contrasts with the dampening effect observed with polyols as well as with the expectations based on the preferential exclusion of the osmolyte from the protein surface.
DOI: 10.1016/S0301-4622(00)00219-2
Subject Phosphorescence
Trimethylamine N-oxide
Acrylamide quenching
Protein dynamics
Protein stability

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