The thermal unfolding of ribonuclease T1has been studied by high-sensitivity differential scanning calorimetry as a function of temperature, [GuHCl], and scanning rate. The destabilizing effect of GuHCl has revealed that the kinetics of the unfolding transition become extremely slow as the transition temperature decreases. At pH 5.3 and zero GuHCl, the unfolding transition is centered at 59.1 °;C; upon increasing the GuHCl concentration, the transition occurs at lower temperatures and exhibits progressively slower kinetics; so, for example, at 3 M GuHCl, the transition temperature is 40.6 °C and is characterized by a time constant close to 10 min. Under all conditions studied (pH 5.3, pH 7.0, [GuHCl] < 3 M), the transition is thermodynamically reversible. The slow kinetics of the transition induce significant distortions in the shape of the transition profiles that can be mistakenly interpreted as deviations from a two-state mechanism. Determination of the thermodynamic parameters from the calorimetric data has required the development of an analytical formalism that explicitly includes the thermodynamics as well as the kinetics of the transition. Using this formalism, it is shown that a two-state slow-kinetics model is capable of accurately describing the structural stability of ribonuclease T1as a function of temperature, GuHCl concentration, and scanning rate. Multidimensional analysis of the calorimetric data has been used to estimate the intrinsic thermodynamic parameters for protein stability, the interaction parameters with GuHCl, and the time constant for the unfolding transition and its temperature dependence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas