• Open Access

Proteins with Highly Similar Native Folds Can Show Vastly Dissimilar Folding Behavior When Desolvated


  • Funding was provided by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): Y372 to K.B.


Proteins can be exposed to vastly different environments such as the cytosol or membranes, but the delicate balance between external factors and intrinsic determinants of protein structure, stability, and folding is only poorly understood. Here we used electron capture dissociation to study horse and tuna heart Cytochromes c in the complete absence of solvent. The significantly different stability of their highly similar native folds after transfer into the gas phase, and their strikingly different folding behavior in the gas phase, can be rationalized on the basis of electrostatic interactions such as salt bridges. In the absence of hydrophobic bonding, protein folding is far slower and more complex than in solution.