The effects of negatively charged phosphatidylserine-prepared membranes (PS) and neutral phosphatidylcholine-prepared membranes (PC) on the structure of wild-type and mutant bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) at neutral pH were investigated. The presence of PC did not have any effect on the protein structure while PS induced a non-native structure in three mutant BPTI proteins. However, the negatively charged membrane did not have any effect on wild-type BPTI. The findings revealed that (i) elimination of some disulphide bonds results in dramatic change in protein structure, and, (ii) that this biochemical interaction is surface-driven and electrostatic interactions may play a very strong role in influencing the fore-stated changes in protein structure. Of further interest were the results obtained from investigating the possible role of PS fluidity and concentration in altering mutant. When the value of Gibbs free-energy change of unfolding (ΔGU) was positive, various non-native structures were formed in a concentration-dependent manner. However, when the value of ΔGU was negative, only two types of non-native structures were formed: one with high β structure content at low PS fluidity state, and the other with a high α-helical content at high PS fluidity state. Our study reveals how particular combinations of phospholipid:protein interactions can induce a protein conformation transition from a native to a non-native one at neutral pH, especially when the native structure is predestabilized by amino acid substitutions. This revelation may open up opportunities to explore alternative ways in which phospholipids may play a role in protein mis-folding and the related pathologies. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 89: 873–880, 2008.
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