Identification of protein secondary structures by laser induced autofluorescence: A study of urea and GnHCl induced protein denaturation
Abstract In the present study an attempt has been made to interrogate the bulk secondary structures of some selected proteins (BSA, HSA, lysozyme, trypsin and ribonuclease A) under urea and GnHCl denaturation using laser induced autofluorescence. The proteins were treated with different concentrations of urea (3M, 6M, 9M) and GnHCl (2M, 4M, 6M) and the corresponding steady state autofluorescence spectra were recorded at 281nm pulsed laser excitations. The recorded fluorescence spectra of proteins were then interpreted based on the existing PDB structures of the proteins and the Trp solvent accessibility (calculated using “Scratch protein predictor” at 30% threshold). Further, the influence of rigidity and conformation of the indole ring (caused by protein secondary structures) on the intrinsic fluorescence properties of proteins were also evaluated using fluorescence of ANS-HSA complexes, CD spectroscopy as well as with trypsin digestion experiments. The outcomes obtained clearly demonstrated GnHCl preferably disrupt helix as compared to the beta β-sheets whereas, urea found was more effective in disrupting β-sheets as compared to the helices. The other way round the proteins which have shown detectable change in the intrinsic fluorescence at lower concentrations of GnHCl were rich in helices whereas, the proteins which showed detectable change in the intrinsic fluorescence at lower concentrations of urea were rich in β-sheets. Since high salt concentrations like GnHCl and urea interfere in the secondary structure analysis by circular dichroism Spectrometry, the present method of analyzing secondary structures using laser induced autofluorescence will be highly advantageous over existing tools for the same. Highlights Secondary structures govern the rigidity & confirmation of indole ring in Trp. Rigidity and confirmation of indole ring in Trp highly influence its fluorescence. GnHCl preferably disrupts helices first compared to sheets. Urea disrupts sheets more efficiently compared to helices. Trp fluorescence in GnHCl & urea denatured protein hints its secondary structure. Graphical Abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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