Thermally denatured state determines refolding in lipase: mutational analysis

Protein Sci. 2009 Jun;18(6):1183-96. doi: 10.1002/pro.126.


Irreversibility of thermally denatured proteins due to aggregation limits thermodynamic characterization of proteins and also confounds the identification of thermostable mutants in protein populations. Identification of mutations that prevent the aggregation of unfolded proteins provides insights into folding pathways. In a lipase from Bacillus subtilis, evolved by directed evolution procedures, the irreversibility due to temperature-mediated aggregation was completely prevented by a single mutation, M137P. Though the parent and the mutants unfold completely on heating, mutants having substitutions M137P, along with M134E and S163P, completely or partially prevent the formation of aggregation-prone intermediate(s) at 75 degrees C. The three mutants show only a marginal increase in free energy of unfolding (DeltaG(H(2)O)), however, the profiles of the residual activity with temperature shows remarkable shift to higher temperature compared to parent. The intermediate(s) were characterized by enhanced binding of bis-ANS, a probe to titrate surface hydrophobicity, aggregation profiles and by estimation of soluble protein. Inclusion of salt in the refolding conditions prevents the reversibility of mutant having charge substitution, while the reversibility of mutant with the introduction of proline was unaffected, indicating the role of charge mediated interaction in M134E in preventing aggregation. Partial prevention of thermal aggregation in wild-type lipase with single substitution, M137P, incorporated by site-directed mutagenesis, suggests that the affect of M137P is independent of the intrinsic thermostability of lipase. Various effects of the mutations suggest their role is in prevention of the formation of aggregation prone intermediate(s). These mutations, describe yet another strategy to enhance the thermotolerance of proteins, where their influence is observed only on the denatured ensemble.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Lipase / chemistry*
  • Lipase / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Proline / chemistry
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Folding


  • Proline
  • Lipase