Optimized Variants of the Cold Shock Protein from in Vitro Selection: Structural Basis of Their High Thermostability


  • K.E. Max
  • M. Wunderlich
  • Y. Roske
  • F.X. Schmid
  • U. Heinemann


  • Journal of Molecular Biology


  • J Mol Biol 369 (4): 1087-1097


  • The bacterial cold shock proteins (Csp) are widely used as models for the experimental and computational analysis of protein stability. In a previous study, in vitro evolution was employed to identify strongly stabilizing mutations in Bs-CspB from Bacillus subtilis. The best variant found by this approach contained the mutations M1R, E3K and K65I, which raised the midpoint of thermal unfolding of Bs-CspB from 53.8 degrees C to 83.7 degrees C, and increased the Gibbs free energy of stabilization by 20.9 kJ mol(-1). Another selected variant with the two mutations A46K and S48R was stabilized by 11.1 kJ mol(-1). To elucidate the molecular basis of these stabilizations, we determined the crystal structures of these two Bs-CspB variants. The mutated residues are generally well ordered and provide additional stabilizing interactions, such as charge interactions, additional hydrogen bonds and improved side-chain packing. Several mutations improve the electrostatic interactions, either by the removal of unfavorable charges (E3K) or by compensating their destabilizing interactions (A46K, S48R). The stabilizing mutations are clustered at a contiguous surface area of Bs-CspB, which apparently is critically important for the stability of the beta-barrel structure but not well optimized in the wild-type protein.