The Effect of Salts on the Conformational Stability of Proteins

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Beauchamp, David L
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It has long been observed that salts affect proteins in a variety of ways, yet comprehensive explanations for different salt effects are still lacking. In the work presented here, the effect of salts on proteins has been investigated through three different effects: the hydrophobic effect; their conformational stability; the hydrogen bonding network of water in a protein’s hydration shell. UV-vis absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy were used to monitor changes in two model systems, the phenol-acetate contact pair and the model enzyme ribonuclease t1. It was shown that salts affect the hydrophobicity of the contact pair according to their charge density, induced image charges play an important role in the observed salt-induced increase of ribonuclease t1 stability, and that salts affect ribonuclease t1 activity through modulation of the hydrogen bonds of water in the enzyme’s hydration shell. This work contributes a greater understanding of the effect of salts on proteins.
Hydrophobic effect, Fluorescence quenching, Salt effects, Protein folding, Induced point-image charges, Kirkwood interactions, Continuum model, Hydrogen bonding, Water-water interactions, Charge density, Enzymatic activity