Secondary-structure analysis of alcohol-denatured proteins by vacuum-ultraviolet circular dichroism spectroscopy


  • Kunihiko Gekko's current address is Institute for Sustainable Sciences and Development, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima 739-8526, Japan


To elucidate the structural characteristics of alcohol-denatured proteins, we measured the vacuum-ultraviolet circular dichroism (VUVCD) spectra of six proteins—myoglobin, human serum albumin, α-lactalbumin, thioredoxin, β-lactoglobulin, and α-chymotrypsinogen A—down to 170 nm in trifluoroethanol solutions (TFE: 0−50%) and down to 175 nm in methanol solutions (MeOH: 0−70%) at pH 2.0 and 25°C, using a synchrotron-radiation VUVCD spectrophotometer. The contents of α-helices, β-strands, turns, poly-L-proline type II helices (PPIIs), and unordered structures of these proteins were estimated using the SELCON3 program, including the numbers of α-helix and β-strand segments. Furthermore, the positions of α-helices and β-strands on amino acid sequences were predicted by combining these secondary-structure data with a neural-network method. All alcohol-denatured proteins showed higher α-helix contents (up to ∼ 90%) compared with the native states, and they consisted of several long helical segments. The helix-forming ability was higher in TFE than in MeOH, whereas small amounts of β-strands without sheets were formed in the MeOH solution. The produced α-helices were transformed dominantly from the β-strands and unordered structures, and slightly from the turns. The content and mean length of α-helix segments decreased as the number of disulfide bonds in the proteins increased, suggesting that disulfide bonds suppress helix formation by alcohols. These results demonstrate that alcohol-denatured proteins constitute an ensemble of many long α-helices, a few β-strands and PPIIs, turns, and unordered structures, depending on the types of proteins and alcohols involved. Proteins 2012;. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.