Cracking The Folding Code. Why Do Some Proteins Adopt Partially Folded Conformations, Whereas Other Don't?

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Many, but not all, globular proteins have been shown to have compact intermediate state(s) under equilibrium conditions in vitro, giving rise to the question: why do some proteins adopt partially folded conformations, whereas other do not? Here we show that charge to hydrophobicity ratio of a polypeptide chain may represent a key determinant in this respect, as proteins known to form equilibrium partially folded intermediates are specifically localized within a unique region of charge–hydrophobicity space. Thus, the competence of a protein to form equilibrium intermediate(s) may be determined by the bulk content of hydrophobic and charged amino acid residues rather than by the positioning of amino acids within the sequence.

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FEBS Letters, v. 514, issue 2-3, p. 181-183