Proteins under extreme physical conditions

Rainer Jaenicke, Péter Závodszky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

131 Citations (Scopus)


Life on earth is ubiquitous within the limits from -5 to 110°C for temperature, 0.1 to 120 MPa for hydrostatic pressure. 1.0 to 0.6 for water activity and pH 1 to 12. In general, mutative adaptation of proteins to changing environmental conditions tends to maintain 'corresponding states' regarding overall topology, flexibility and hydration. Due to the minute changes in the free energy of stabilization responsible for enhanced stability, nature provides a wide variety of different adaptive strategies. In the case of thermophilic proteins, improved packing densities are crucial. In halophilic proteins, decreased hydrophobicity and clustered surface charges serve to increase water and salt binding required for solubilization at high salt concentration. In the case of barophiles, high-pressure adaptation is expected to be less important than adaptation to low temperatures governing the deep sea. Nothing is known with respect to the mechanisms underlying psychrophilic and acidophilic alkalophilic adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-349
Number of pages6
JournalFEBS letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 1990


  • Barophile: Halophile
  • Stability
  • Thermophile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

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