Methanol-induced conformations of myoglobin at pH 4.0

Biochemistry. 2000 Nov 28;39(47):14702-10. doi: 10.1021/bi001265t.


The equilibrium methanol-induced conformation changes of holomyoglobin (hMb) at pH 4.0 have been studied by circular dichroism, tryptophan fluorescence, and Soret band absorption and by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). Optical spectra show the following: (1) In 35-40% (v/v) methanol/water, the native-like secondary structure remains, the tertiary structure is lost, the heme protein interactions are decreased, and a folding intermediate is formed. (2) In 50% methanol, heme is lost from the protein, and there is a small decrease in helicity together with a loss of tertiary structure. (3) At >60% methanol, the helicity increases and the apoprotein goes into a helical denatured state. The conformations are also probed by the charge states produced in ESI-MS and by hydrogen/deuterium (H/D) exchange with mass measurement by ESI-MS. At 0-30% methanol, native hMb produces relatively low charge states (9(+)-13(+)) in ESI-MS and exchanges relatively few hydrogens. In 35-40% methanol, at which an intermediate is formed, there is a bimodal distribution of hMb ions with both low (9(+)-13(+)) and high (14(+)-23(+)) charge states and also a high charge state distribution (12(+)-26(+)) of apomyoglobin (aMb) ions. Low and high charge states of hMb and a high charge state of aMb all show the same H/D exchange rate, indicating that an unfolded hMb intermediate interconverts between folded hMb and unfolded aMb. The charge state distribution for the unfolded hMb intermediate observed here is similar to that of the recently reported transient intermediate formed during the acid denaturation of hMb. At 50% alcohol the protein produces predominantly high charge states of aMb ions and shows H/D exchange rates close to those of the acid-denatured protein. H/D exchange of the helical denatured protein at alcohol concentrations >60%, at which high charge states of aMb are produced, shows that the protein structure is more protected than at approximately 50% methanol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Deuterium
  • Horses
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Methanol / pharmacology*
  • Myoglobin / chemistry*
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary / drug effects
  • Protons
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Tryptophan / chemistry


  • Myoglobin
  • Protons
  • Tryptophan
  • Deuterium
  • Methanol