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Folding and misfolding of the papillomavirus E6 interacting peptide E6ap

National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
  • Biological Sciences


All-atom Langevin dynamics simulations have been performed to study the folding pathways of the 18-residue binding domain fragment E6ap of the human papillomavirus E6 interacting peptide. Six independent folding trajectories, with a total duration of nearly 2 μs, all lead to the same native state in which the E6ap adopts a fluctuating α-helix structure in the central portion (Ser-4–Leu-13) but with very flexible N and C termini. Simulations starting from different core configurations exhibit the E6ap folding dynamics as either a two- or three-state folder with an intermediate misfolded state. The essential leucine hydrophobic core (Leu-9, Leu-12, and Leu-13) is well conserved in the native-state structure but absent in the intermediate structure, suggesting that the leucine core is not only essential for the binding activity of E6ap but also important for the stability of the native structure. The free energy landscape reveals a significant barrier between the basins separating the native and misfolded states. We also discuss the various underlying forces that drive the peptide into its native state.

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