Contribution of histidine residues to the conformational stability of ribonuclease T1 and mutant Glu-58----Ala. Academic Article uri icon


  • The pK values of the histidine residues in ribonuclease T1 (RNase T1) are unusually high: 7.8 (His-92), 7.9 (His-40), and 7.3 (His-27) [Inagaki et al. (1981) J. Biochem. 89, 1185-1195]. In the RNase T1 mutant Glu-58----Ala, the first two pK values are reduced to 7.4 (His-92) and 7.1 (His-40). These lower pKs were expected since His-92 (5.5 A) and His-40 (3.7 A) are in close proximity to Glu-58 at the active site. The conformational stability of RNase T1 increases by over 4 kcal/mol between pH 9 and 5, and this can be entirely accounted for by the greater affinity for protons by the His residues in the folded protein (average pK = 7.6) than in the unfolded protein (pk approximately 6.6). Thus, almost half of the net conformational stability of RNase T1 results from a difference between the pK values of the histidine residues in the folded and unfolded conformations. In the Glu-58----Ala mutant, the increase in stability between pH 9 and 5 is halved (approximately 2 kcal/mol), as expected on the basis of the lower pK values for the His residues in the folded protein (average pK = 7.1). As a consequence, RNase T1 is more stable than the mutant below pH 7.5, and less stable above pH 7.5. These results emphasize the importance of measuring the conformational stability as a function of pH when comparing proteins differing in structure.

published proceedings

  • Biochemistry

author list (cited authors)

  • McNutt, M., Mullins, L. S., Raushel, F. M., & Pace, C. N.

citation count

  • 53

complete list of authors

  • McNutt, M||Mullins, LS||Raushel, FM||Pace, CN

publication date

  • August 1990