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A 130-residue fragment (D1-D4) taken from a fibronectin-binding protein of Staphylococcus aureus, which contains four fibronectin-binding repeats and is unfolded but biologically active at neutral pH, has been studied extensively by NMR spectroscopy. Using heteronuclear multidimensional techniques, the conformational properties of D1-D4 have been defined at both a global and a local level. Diffusion studies give an average effective radius of 26.2 +/- 0.1 A, approximately 75% larger than that expected for a globular protein of this size. Analysis of chemical shift, 3JHNalpha coupling constant, and NOE data show that the experimental parameters agree well overall with values measured in short model peptides and with predictions from a statistical model for a random coil. Sequences where specific features give deviations from these predictions for a random coil have however been identified. These arise from clustering of hydrophobic side chains and electrostatic interactions between charged groups. 15N relaxation studies demonstrate that local fluctuations of the chain are the dominant motional process that gives rise to relaxation of the 15N nuclei, with a persistence length of approximately 7-10 residues for the segmental motion. The consequences of the structural and dynamical properties of this unfolded protein for its biological role of binding to fibronectin have been considered. It is found that the regions of the sequence involved in binding have a high propensity for populating extended conformations, a feature that would allow a number of both charged and hydrophobic groups to be presented to fibronectin for highly specific binding.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





17054 - 17067


Adhesins, Bacterial, Amino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, Carrier Proteins, Models, Chemical, Molecular Sequence Data, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular, Peptide Fragments, Protein Conformation, Protein Denaturation, Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid, Staphylococcus aureus