Pressure denaturation of the bacteriophage P22 coat protein and its entropic stabilization in icosahedral shells

Academic Article


  • The pressure stability of bacteriophage P22 coat protein in both monomeric and polymeric forms under hydrostatic pressure was examined using light scattering, fluorescence emission, polarization, and lifetime methodology. The monomeric protein is very unstable toward pressure and undergoes significant structural changes at pressures as low as 0.5 kbar. These structural changes ultimately lead to denaturation of the subunit. Comparison of the protein denatured by pressure to that in guanidine hydrochloride suggests that pressure results in partial unfolding, perhaps by a domain mechanism. Fluorescence lifetime measurements indicate that at atmospheric pressure the local environments of the tryptophans are remarkably similar, suggesting they may be clustered. In contrast to the monomeric protein subunit, the protein when polymerized into procapsid shells is very stable to applied pressure and does not dissociate with pressure up to 2.5 kbar. However, under applied pressure the procapsid shells are cold-labile, suggesting they are entropically stabilized. The significance of these results in terms of virus assembly are discussed. © 1994, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Prevelige PE; King J; Silva JL
  • Start Page

  • 1631
  • End Page

  • 1641
  • Volume

  • 66
  • Issue

  • 5