Determinants of protein hydrogen exchange studied in equine cytochrome c. Academic Article uri icon


  • The exchange of a large number of amide hydrogens in oxidized equine cytochrome c was measured by NMR and compared with structural parameters. Hydrogens known to exchange through local structural fluctuations and through larger unfolding reactions were separately considered. All hydrogens protected from exchange by factors greater than 10(3) are in defined H-bonds, and almost all H-bonded hydrogens including those at the protein surface were measured to exchange slowly. H-exchange rates do not correlate with H-bond strength (length) or crystallographic B factors. It appears that the transient structural fluctuation necessary to bring an exchangeable hydrogen into H-bonding contact with the H-exchange catalyst (OH(-)-ion) involves a fairly large separation of the H-bond donor and acceptor, several angstroms at least, and therefore depends on the relative resistance to distortion of immediately neighboring structure. Accordingly, H-exchange by way of local fluctuational pathways tends to be very slow for hydrogens that are neighbored by tightly anchored structure and for hydrogens that are well buried. The slowing of buried hydrogens may also reflect the need for additional motions that allow solvent access once the protecting H-bond is separated, although it is noteworthy that burial in a protein like cytochrome c does not exceed 4 angstroms. When local fluctuational pathways are very slow, exchange can become dominated by a different category of larger, cooperative, segmental unfolding reactions reaching up to global unfolding.

published proceedings

  • Protein Sci

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Milne, J. S., Mayne, L., Roder, H., Wand, A. J., & Englander, S. W.

citation count

  • 175

complete list of authors

  • Milne, JS||Mayne, L||Roder, H||Wand, AJ||Englander, SW

publication date

  • March 1998