Correlation Spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics Simulations to Study the Structural Features of Proteins

Antonio Varriale, Anna Marabotti, Giampiero Mei, Maria Staiano, Sabato D'Auria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this work, we used a combination of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation methodologies to acquire structural information on pH-induced unfolding of the maltotriose-binding protein from Thermus thermophilus (MalE2). FCS has emerged as a powerful technique for characterizing the dynamics of molecules and it is, in fact, used to study molecular diffusion on timescale of microsecond and longer. Our results showed that keeping temperature constant, the protein diffusion coefficient decreased from 84±4 μm2/s to 44±3 μm2/s when pH was changed from 7.0 to 4.0. An even more marked decrease of the MalE2 diffusion coefficient (31±3 μm2/s) was registered when pH was raised from 7.0 to 10.0. According to the size of MalE2 (a monomeric protein with a molecular weight of 43 kDa) as well as of its globular native shape, the values of 44 μm2/s and 31 μm2/s could be ascribed to deformations of the protein structure, which enhances its propensity to form aggregates at extreme pH values. The obtained fluorescence correlation data, corroborated by circular dichroism, fluorescence emission and light-scattering experiments, are discussed together with the MD simulations results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere64840
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 4 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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