Comprehensive Analysis of the Roles of ‘black’ and ‘gray’ Clusters in Structure and Function of Rat Β-parvalbumin

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Recently we found two highly conserved structural motifs in the proteins of the EF-hand calcium binding protein family. These motifs provide a supporting scaffold for the Ca2+ binding loops and contribute to the hydrophobic core of the EF-hand domain. Each structural motif forms a cluster of three amino acids called cluster I (‘black’ cluster) and cluster II (‘grey’ cluster). Cluster I is much more conserved and mostly incorporates aromatic amino acids. In contrast, cluster II includes a mix of aromatic, hydrophobic, and polar amino acids. The ‘black’ and ‘gray’ clusters in rat β-parvalbumin consist of F48, A100, F103 and G61, L64, M87, respectively. In the present work, we sequentially substituted these amino acids residues by Ala, except Ala100, which was substituted by Val. Physical properties of the mutants were studied by circular dichroism, scanning calorimetry, dynamic light scattering, chemical crosslinking, and fluorescent probe methods. The Ca2+ and Mg2+ binding affinities of these mutants were evaluated by intrinsic fluorescence and equilibrium dialysis methods. In spite of a rather complicated pattern of contributions of separate amino acid residues of the ‘black’ and ‘gray’ clusters into maintenance of rat β-parvalbumin structural and functional status, the alanine substitutions in the cluster I cause noticeably more pronounced changes in various structural parameters of proteins, such as hydrodynamic radius of apo-form, thermal stability of Ca2+/Mg2+-loaded forms, and total energy of Ca2+ binding in comparison with the changes caused by amino acid substitutions in the cluster II. These findings were further supported by the outputs of computational analysis of the effects of these mutations on the intrinsic disorder predisposition of rat β-parvalbumin, which also indicated that local intrinsic disorder propensities and the overall levels of predicted disorder were strongly affected by mutations in the cluster I, whereas mutations in cluster II had less pronounced effects. These results demonstrate that amino acids of the cluster I provide more essential contribution to the maintenance of structuraland functional properties of the protein in comparison with the residues of the cluster II.

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Cell Calcium, v. 75, p. 64-78