Common features of protein unfolding and dissolution of hydrophobic compounds

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Science  02 Feb 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4942, pp. 559-561
DOI: 10.1126/science.2300815


Protein unfolding and the dissolution of hydrophobic compounds (including solids, liquids, and gases) in water are characterized by a linear relation between entropy change and heat capacity change. The same slope is found for various classes of compounds, whereas the intercept depends on the particular class. The feature common to these processes is exposure of hydrophobic groups to water. These observations make possible the assignment of the heat capacity change to hydrophobic solvation and lead to the description of protein stability in terms of a hydrophobic and a nonhydrophobic contribution. A general representation of protein stability is given by the heat capacity change and the temperature.

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