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Biological Roles of Protein Kinetic Stability

Colón, Wilfredo, Church, Jennifer, Sen, Jayeeta, Thibeault, Jane, Trasatti, Hannah, Xia, Ke
Biochemistry 2017 v.56 no.47 pp. 6179-6186
activation energy, half life, phenotype, protective effect, proteins, proteolysis
A protein’s stability may range from nonexistent, as in the case of intrinsically disordered proteins, to very high, as indicated by a protein’s resistance to degradation, even under relatively harsh conditions. The stability of this latter group is usually under kinetic control because of a high activation energy for unfolding that virtually traps the protein in a specific conformation, thereby conferring resistance to proteolytic degradation and misfolding aggregation. The usual outcome of kinetic stability is a longer protein half-life. Thus, the protective role of protein kinetic stability is often appreciated, but relatively little is known about the extent of biological roles related to this property. In this Perspective, we will discuss several known or putative biological roles of protein kinetic stability, including protection from stressors to avoid aggregation or premature degradation, achieving long-term phenotypic change, and regulating cellular processes by controlling the trigger and timing of molecular motion. The picture that emerges from this analysis is that protein kinetic stability is involved in a myriad of known and yet to be discovered biological functions via its ability to confer degradation resistance and control the timing, extent, and permanency of molecular motion.