Apoglobin Stability Is the Major Factor Governing both Cell-Free and In Vivo Expression of Holomyoglobin [Molecular Biophysics]

July 23rd, 2015 by Samuel, P. P., Smith, L. P., Phillips, G. N., Olson, J. S.

Expression levels in animal muscle tissues and in E. coli vary widely for naturally occurring mammalian myoglobins (Mb). To explore this variation, we developed an in vitro transcription and wheat germ extract-based translation assay to examine quantitatively the factors that govern expression of holoMb. We constructed a library of naturally occurring Mbs from two terrestrial and four deep-diving aquatic mammals and three distal histidine mutants designed to enhance apoglobin stability but decrease hemin affinity. A strong linear correlation is observed between cell-free expression levels of holo-metMb variants and their corresponding apoglobin stabilities, which were measured independently by GuHCl induced unfolding titrations using purified proteins. In contrast, there is little dependence of expression on hemin affinity. Our results confirm quantitatively that deep diving mammals have highly stable Mbs that express to higher levels in animal myocytes, E. coli, and our wheat germ cell-free system than Mbs from terrestrial mammals. Our theoretical analyses show that the rate of aggregation of unfolded apoMb is very large, and as a result, the key factor for high-level expression of holoMb, and presumably other heme proteins, is an ultra high fraction of folded, native apoglobin that is capable of rapidly binding hemin. This fraction is determined by the overall equilibrium folding constant and not hemin affinity. These results also demonstrate that the cell-free transcription/translation system can be used as a high-throughput platform to screen for apoglobin stability without the need to generate large amounts of protein for in vitro unfolding measurements.