The present study utilized a combination of DLS (dynamic light scattering) and DSC (differential scanning calorimetry) to address thermostability of high-affinity folate binding protein (FBP), a transport protein and cellular receptor for the vitamin folate. At pH7.4 (pI=7-8) ligand binding increased concentration-dependent self-association of FBP into stable multimers of holo-FBP. DSC of 3.3μM holo-FBP showed Tm (76°C) and molar enthalpy (146kcalM(-1)) values increasing to 78°C and 163kcalM(-1) at 10μM holo-FBP, while those of apo-FBP were 55°C and 105kcalM(-1). Besides ligand binding, intermolecular forces involved in concentration-dependent multimerization thus contribute to the thermostability of holo-FBP. Hence, thermal unfolding and dissociation of holo-FBP multimers occur simultaneously consistent with a gradual decrease from octameric to monomeric holo-FBP (10μM) in DLS after a step-wise rise in temperature to 78°C≈Tm. Stable holo-FBP multimers may protect naturally occurring labile folates against decomposition or bacterial utilization. DSC established an interrelationship between diminished folate binding at pH5, especially in NaCl-free buffers, and low thermostability. Positively charged apo-FBP was almost completely unfolded and aggregated at pH5 (Tm 38°C) and holo-FBP, albeit more thermostable, was labile with aggregation tendency. Addition of 0.15M NaCl increased thermostability of apo-FBP drastically, and even more so that of holo-FBP. Electrostatic forces thus seem to contribute to a diminished thermostability at low pH. Fluorescence spectroscopy after irreversible thermal unfolding of FBP revealed a weak-affinity folate binding.
B B a - Proteins and Proteomics, 2014, Vol 1844, Issue 3, p. 512-519