The recombinant dehydrin-like desiccation stress protein from the resurrection plant Craterostigma plantagineum displays no defined three-dimensional structure in its native state

Biol Chem. 1996 Sep;377(9):555-61. doi: 10.1515/bchm3.1996.377.9.555.


Dehydration stress in the drought-tolerant resurrection plant Craterostigma plantagineum is accompanied by the accumulation of a large number of desiccation stress proteins (Dsp). One abundant class of these is represented by the dehydrin-related Dsp16 protein which contains 15 amino acid conserved lysine-rich repeats and a stretch of eight serine residues providing extremely hydrophilic characteristics. Recombinant Dsp16 from Craterostigma plantagineum has been cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The protein was purified and characterized regarding its physicochemical properties. Irrespective of successful crystallization experiments, dilute aqueous buffer solutions do not display a well-defined three-dimensional structure in terms of the canonical secondary structural elements. 1H-NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectra in aqueous solution are characterized by a small chemical shift dispersion typical for an unfolded protein; however, the observed line-widths are not typical for a highly mobile random coil structure. Instead they indicate an equilibrium between conformational states with preferentially extended substructures. As a consequence of its loose structure, Dsp16 is extremely sensitive towards proteolysis unless its structure is stabilized by structure-making additives such as trifluoroethanol. Denaturants such as guanidinium chloride do not induce cooperative structural transitions. pH-dependent fluorescence changes reflect protonation/deprotonation rather than conformational changes. Sedimentation/diffusion experiments confirm the predicted molecular mass of 16 kDa. Due to the high serine/threonine content and its loose structure, Dsp16 is accessible to phosphorylation, supporting the idea that in situ the structurally relatively undefined protein may be involved in both water binding and phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Desiccation
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Molecular Weight
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins