Molecular dynamics simulations of α-lactalbumin were performed under conditions of neutral pH and low pH in order to study the acid-induced molten globule state. Through the use of experimental techniques such as NMR and CD spectroscopy, molten globules have been characterized as being compact intermediates with secondary structure similar to that of the native protein but with tertiary structure that is disordered. The detailed structure of the molten globule state is unknown, however. Through the use of computer simulations we can study the structural changes which occur upon lowering pH. The simulations presented here differ from previous unfolding simulations in two important ways: the electrostatic interactions are treated more accurately than ever before, and artificially high temperatures are not used to force the protein to unfold. Simulations of 880 psec each were run at pH 7 (control simulation) and pH 2. We concentrate on the interesting changes in the tertiary interactions within the protein with lowering of pH. In particular, there is a loss of native tertiary contacts in the beta domain and interdomain region, and a large decrease in interdomain hydrogen bonds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology