Contributions of hydrophobic domain interface interactions to the folding and stability of human gammaD-crystallin

Protein Sci. 2005 Mar;14(3):569-81. doi: 10.1110/ps.041111405.


Human gammaD-crystallin (HgammaD-Crys) is a monomeric eye lens protein composed of two highly homologous beta-sheet domains. The domains interact through interdomain side chain contacts forming two structurally distinct regions, a central hydrophobic cluster and peripheral residues. The hydrophobic cluster contains Met43, Phe56, and Ile81 from the N-terminal domain (N-td) and Val132, Leu145, and Val170 from the C-terminal domain (C-td). Equilibrium unfolding/refolding of wild-type HgammaD-Crys in guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) was best fit to a three-state model with transition midpoints of 2.2 and 2.8 M GuHCl. The two transitions likely corresponded to sequential unfolding/refolding of the N-td and the C-td. Previous kinetic experiments revealed that the C-td refolds more rapidly than the N-td. We constructed alanine substitutions of the hydrophobic interface residues to analyze their roles in folding and stability. After purification from E. coli, all mutant proteins adopted a native-like structure similar to wild type. The mutants F56A, I81A, V132A, and L145A had a destabilized N-td, causing greater population of the single folded domain intermediate. Compared to wild type, these mutants also had reduced rates for productive refolding of the N-td but not the C-td. These data suggest a refolding pathway where the domain interface residues of the refolded C-td act as a nucleating center for refolding of the N-td. Specificity of domain interface interactions is likely important for preventing incorrect associations in the high protein concentrations of the lens nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Circular Dichroism
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Mutation
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Renaturation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • gamma-Crystallins / genetics
  • gamma-Crystallins / isolation & purification
  • gamma-Crystallins / metabolism*


  • gamma-Crystallins