Hierarchic finite level energy landscape model: To describe the refolding kinetics of phosphoglycerate kinase

Szabolcs Osváth, Levente Herényi, Péter Závodszky, Judit Fidy, Gottfried Köhler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most intriguing predictions of energy landscape models is the existence of non-exponential protein folding kinetics caused by hierarchical structures in the landscapes. Here we provide the strongest evidence so far of such hierarchy and determine the time constants and weights of the kinetic components of the suggested hierarchic energy landscape. To our knowledge, the idea of hierarchical folding energy barriers has never been tested over such a broad timescale. Refolding of yeast phosphoglycerate kinase was initiated from the guanidine-unfolded state by stopped-flow or manual mixing and monitored by tryptophan fluorescence from 1 ms to 15 min. The strategy to build a model that describes folding of yeast phosphoglycerate kinase was to start from the simplest paradigm and modify it stepwise to the necessary minimal extent after repeated comparisons with the experiments. We made no a priori assumptions about the folding landscape. The result was a hierarchic finite level landscape model that quantitatively describes the refolding of yeast phosphoglycerate kinase from 1 ms to 15 min. The early steps of the folding process happen in the upper region of the landscape, where the surface has a hierarchic structure. This leads to stretched kinetics in the early phase of the folding. The lower region of the energy landscape is dominated by a trap that reflects the accumulation of molten globule intermediate state. From this intermediate, the protein can reach the global energy minimum corresponding to the native state through a cross-barrier folding step.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24375-24380
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - Aug 25 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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