Mechanics of Protein Adaptation to High Temperatures

J Phys Chem Lett. 2017 Dec 7;8(23):5884-5890. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b02611. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Abstract

Inspired by Somero's corresponding state principle that relates protein enhanced thermal stability with mechanical rigidity, we deployed state of the art computational techniques (based on atomistic steered molecular dynamics and Hamiltonian-replica exchange simulations) to study the in silico realization of mechanical and thermal unfolding of two homologous Csp proteins that have evolved to thrive in different thermal environments. By complementing recent single-molecule experiments, we unambiguously show that, for these homologues whose structures are very similar, the increased thermal resistance of the thermophilic variant is not associated with an increased mechanical stability. Our approach provides microscopic insights that are otherwise inaccessible to experimental techniques, and explains why the protein weak spots for thermal and mechanical denaturation are distinct.