Loop entropy and cytochrome c stability

Liping Wang, Edna V. Rivera, Maria G. Benavides-Garcia, Barry T. Nall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The loop entropy model proposes that loop closure in a protein becomes entropically more costly as the length of the loop increases. A model protein, cytochrome c, is composed of four loops connecting five helices surrounding a heme-containing core. To test the loop entropy model a series of mutant proteins are constructed with (Gly)n or (Thr)n segments (n=4-20) inserted between Gly23 and Gly24 of Ω loop A of a pseudo wild-type reference protein. Scanning calorimetry shows that protein stability decreases as n increases in the (Gly)n or (Thr)n segment. The dependence of stability on loop length is analyzed with the loop entropy model. Fitting to the model gives a quantitative description of stability differences for the mutant proteins, but with a smaller power-dependence of the probability of loop closure (c-value) than expected from polymer theory. A possible explanation for the discrepancy is that thermodynamically unfavorable loop entropy is partially offset by interactions between the inserted homopolymer and flanking heteropolymer portions of the unfolded protein. The interactions may involve molecular crowding that favors coalescence of the heteropolymer at the insert site and thus closure of the homopolymer loops, possibly as an aspect of the folding code. This may allow use of loop insert mutants to assess the strength of the heteropolymer-encoded folding signals that facilitate loop closure at the insert site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-729
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 28 2005


  • Excluded volume
  • Molecular crowding
  • Polyglycine
  • Polythreonine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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