How Quickly Do Proteins Fold and Unfold, and What Structural Parameters Correlate with These Values?

Biomolecules. 2020 Jan 29;10(2):197. doi: 10.3390/biom10020197.


The correlations between the logarithm of the unfolding rate of 108 proteins and their structural parameters were calculated. We showed that there is a good correlation between the logarithm of folding and unfolding rates (0.79) and protein stability and unfolding rate (0.79). Thus, the faster the protein folds, the faster it unfolds. Folding and unfolding rates are higher for the proteins with two-state kinetics, in comparison with the proteins with multi-state kinetics. At the same time, two-state bacterial proteins folds and unfolds two orders of magnitude faster than two-state eukaryotic proteins, and multi-state bacterial proteins folds and unfolds slower than multi-state eukaryotic proteins. Despite the fact that the folding rates of thermophilic and mesophilic proteins are close, the unfolding rates of thermophilic proteins is about two orders of magnitude lower than for mesophilic proteins. The correlation between unfolding rate and stability of thermophilic proteins is high (0.90). We also found that the unfolding rate correlates with such structural parameters as: size of the protein, radius of the cross-section, logarithm of absolute contact order, and radius of gyration. This information will be useful for engineering and designing new proteins with desired properties.

Keywords: bacterial proteins; eukaryotic proteins; mesophile; protein unfolding; thermophile; unfolding rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Computational Biology
  • Databases, Protein
  • Kinetics
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Stability
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Unfolding*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Bacterial Proteins