Computational Investigation of the Effect of Pressure on Protein Stability

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Previous studies show parabolic or elliptical regions of protein stability in the pressure-temperature (P, T) plane. The construction of stability diagrams requires accessing a sufficiently broad (P, T) range, which is often frustrated by ice formation in experiments and sampling challenges in simulations. We perform a fully atomistic computational study of the miniprotein Trp-cage over the range of temperatures 210 ≤ T ≤ 420 K and pressures P ≤ 5 kbar and construct the corresponding stability diagram. At ambient temperature, pressure shifts the conformational states toward unfolding. Below 250 K, the native fold's stability depends nonmonotonically on pressure. While cold unfolding and thermal denaturation differ significantly at ambient pressure, they exhibit progressive similarity at elevated pressures. At ambient pressure, cold denaturation is an enthalpically driven process that preserves significant elements of Trp-cage's secondary structure. In contrast, cold unfolding at elevated pressures involves a more substantial loss of secondary and tertiary structure, similar to thermal denaturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1894-1899
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 18 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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