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The unfolding and refolding properties of human lysozyme and two amyloidogenic variants (Ile56Thr and Asp67His) have been studied by stopped-flow fluorescence and hydrogen exchange pulse labeling coupled with mass spectrometry. The unfolding of each protein in 5.4 M guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) is well described as a two-state process, but the rates of unfolding of the Ile56Thr variant and the Asp67His variant in 5.4 M GuHCl are ca. 30 and 160 times greater, respectively, than that of the wild type. The refolding of all three proteins in 0.54 M GuHCl at pH 5.0 proceeds through persistent intermediates, revealed by multistep kinetics in fluorescence experiments and by the detection of well-defined populations in quenched-flow hydrogen exchange experiments. These findings are consistent with a predominant mechanism for refolding of human lysozyme in which one of the structural domains (the alpha-domain) is formed in two distinct steps and is followed by the folding of the other domain (the beta-domain) prior to the assembly of the two domains to form the native structure. The refolding kinetics of the Asp67His variant are closely similar to those of the wild-type protein, consistent with the location of this mutation in an outer loop of the beta-domain which gains native structure only toward the end of the refolding process. By contrast, the Ile56Thr mutation is located at the base of the beta-domain and is involved in the domain interface. The refolding of the alpha-domain is unaffected by this substitution, but the latter has the effect of dramatically slowing the folding of the beta-domain and the final assembly of the native structure. These studies suggest that the amyloidogenic nature of the lysozyme variants arises from a decrease in the stability of the native fold relative to partially folded intermediates. The origin of this instability is different in the two variants, being caused in one case primarily by a reduction in the folding rate and in the other by an increase in the unfolding rate. In both cases this results in a low population of soluble partially folded species that can aggregate in a slow and controlled manner to form amyloid fibrils.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





6419 - 6427


Amyloid, Amyloidosis, Aspartic Acid, Histidine, Humans, Isoleucine, Kinetics, Mass Spectrometry, Models, Molecular, Muramidase, Protein Folding, Protons, Recombinant Proteins, Spectrometry, Fluorescence, Threonine