Alkyl imidazolium chloride ionic liquids (ILs) have been used for numerous biochemical applications. Their hydrophobicity can be tuned by changing the alkyl chain length, and longer-chain ILs can form micelles in aqueous solution. We have investigated the effects of imidazolium chloride ILs on the structure and stability of azurin, which is a very stable Cu2+ redox protein with both α-helix and β-sheet domains. Temperature-dependent infrared (IR) and vibrational circular dichroism spectroscopy can provide secondary-structure-specific information about how the protein is affected, and temperature-jump transient IR measurements can quantify the IL-influenced unfolding dynamics. Using these techniques, we can quantify how azurin is destabilized by 1.0 M ILs in aqueous solution. The shorter, less hydrophobic ILs, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride and 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride likely interact with the α-helix domain and decrease protein melting temperature from 82 °C without IL to 55 °C and disturb the overall tertiary structure, resulting in a looser, more open shape. Thermodynamic analysis indicates that protein destabilization is due to increased unfolding entropy. 1-Octyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride [OMIM]Cl, which forms micelles in solution that may partially solvate the protein, has a more significant destabilizing effect, resulting in a melting temperature of 35 °C, larger unfolding entropy, and relaxation kinetics several orders of magnitude faster than with unperturbed azurin. The temperature-independence of the relaxation time constant suggests that in the presence of [OMIM]Cl, the protein folding potential energy surface has become very smooth.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry