Recently, we described the formation of a complex between liposomes and the unfolded protein rhodanese (thiosulfatexyanide sulfurtransferase, EC 184.108.40.206), which could be liberated and efficiently reactivated after treatment of the complex with detergents [Zardeneta, G., & Horowitz, P. M. (1992) Eur. J. Biochem. 210, 831–837]. Previous data suggested that liposome-bound rhodanese was in the form of a folding intermediate. We have characterized in greater detail the nature of the conformation of the bound rhodanese. Physical characterization of the bound rhodanese intermediate was carried out using proteolysis, fluorescence studies with 1,8-anilinonapthalene-8-sulfonic acid, a probe for hydrophobic site exposure, intrinsic fluorescence to determine tryptophan accessibility using the quenchers acrylamide and iodide, and circular dichroism to detect extent of secondary structure. These studies show that the rhodanese intermediates bound to either cardiolipin or phosphatidylserine liposomes are not identical, the former being in a less compact conformation yet having more secondary structure than the latter, an observation which may explain why the reactivation of the former intermediate is more effective. Finally, turbidimetric and proteolytic studies raise the possibility that each rhodanese intermediate binds to several liposomes. This finding suggests that a possible reason for the differential reactivation yields obtained may be due to the fact that unfolded rhodanese has more binding sites for cardiolipin than for phosphatidylserine liposomes. A greater number of binding sites would result in better anchoring of rhodanese's interactive surfaces and thus reduce the likelihood of misfolding.
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