Rational stabilization of complex proteins: a divide and combine approach
Lamazares E, Clemente I, Bueno M, Velázquez-Campoy A, Sancho J.
Sci Rep. 2015 March; 5: 9129.
ncreasing the thermostability of proteins is often crucial for their successful use as analytic, synthetic or therapeutic tools. Most rational thermostabilization strategies were developed on small two-state proteins and, unsurprisingly, they tend to fail when applied to the much more abundant, larger, non-fully cooperative proteins. We show that the key to stabilize the latter is to know the regions of lower stability. To prove it, we have engineered apoflavodoxin, a non-fully cooperative protein on which previous thermostabilizing attempts had failed. We use a step-wise combination of structure-based, rationally-designed, stabilizing mutations confined to the less stable structural region, and obtain variants that, according to their van’t Hoff to calorimetric enthalpy ratios, exhibit fully-cooperative thermal unfolding with a melting temperature of 75°C, 32 degrees above the lower melting temperature of the non-cooperative wild type protein. The ideas introduced here may also be useful for the thermostabilization of complex proteins through formulation or using specific stabilizing ligands (e.g. pharmacological chaperones).