Proteins and pressure

Hans Frauenfelder, Neil A. Alberding, Anjum Ansari, David Braunstein, Benjamin R. Cowen, Mi Kyung Hong, Icko E.T. Iben, J. Bruce Johnson, Stan Luck, Michael C. Marden, Judith R. Mourant, Pal Ormos, Lou Reinisch, Reinhard Scholl, Alfons Schulte, Erramilli Shyamsunder, Larry B. Sorensen, Peter J. Steinbach, Aihua Xie, Robert D. YoungKwok To Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

249 Citations (Scopus)


The exploration of the combined effects of pressure and temperature leads to new insights into the structure, dynamics, and reactions of proteins. A protein molecule possesses many conformational substates, nearly isoenergetic structures performing the same function but possibly with different rates. Pressure alters both the relative substate populations and the functional properties of the individual substates and thus can produce large changes in the static and dynamic properties of a protein ensemble. Such pressure effects have been measured for myoglobin (Mb), using visible and FTIR techniques. Above a glass temperature, Tsg, pressure redistributes substate populations and changes protein structure, the position of spectral bands, and protein reaction rates. Equilbrium substate populations measured from 230 to 330 K at pressures up to 200 MPa yield a thermodynamic comparison of different substates at pH 5.5 and 6.6. Near Tsg, pressure jump experiments reveal several relaxation processes. Well below Tsg, the properties of the proteins at temperature T and pressure P depend on history, i.e., on the order in which the sample is pressurized and cooled. The effect of pressure on the binding CO and O2 to Mb after photodissociation points to the strong influence of conformational substates on protein reactions. Pressure controls the rate of rebinding through the activation volume and through redistribution of substate populations. The conformational effect of pressure differs for CO and O2, and for sperm whale and horse myoglobin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1037
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of physical chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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    Frauenfelder, H., Alberding, N. A., Ansari, A., Braunstein, D., Cowen, B. R., Hong, M. K., Iben, I. E. T., Johnson, J. B., Luck, S., Marden, M. C., Mourant, J. R., Ormos, P., Reinisch, L., Scholl, R., Schulte, A., Shyamsunder, E., Sorensen, L. B., Steinbach, P. J., Xie, A., ... Yue, K. T. (1990). Proteins and pressure. Journal of physical chemistry, 94(3), 1024-1037.