Source:Biophysical Journal, Elsevier, 94:726–36, 2008
The understanding of the folding mechanisms of single-domain proteins is an essential step in the understanding of protein folding in general. Recently, we developed a mesoscopic CA-CB side-chain protein model, which was successfully applied in protein structure prediction, studies of protein thermodynamics, and modeling of protein complexes. In this research, this model is employed in a detailed characterization of the folding process of a simple globular protein, the B1 domain of IgG-binding protein G (GB1). There is a vast body of experimental facts and theoretical findings for this protein. Performing unbiased, ab initio simulations, we demonstrated that the GB1 folding proceeds via the formation of an extended folding nucleus, followed by slow structure fine-tuning. Remarkably, a subset of native interactions drives the folding from the very beginning. The emerging comprehensive picture of GB1 folding perfectly matches and extends the previous experimental and theoretical studies.