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Comparison of the proteins of thermophilic, mesophilic, and psychrophilic prokaryotes has revealed several features characteristic to proteins adapted to high temperatures, which increase their thermostability. These characteristics include a profusion of disulfide bonds, salt bridges, hydrogen bonds, and hydrophobic interactions, and a depletion in intrinsically disordered regions. It is unclear, however, whether such differences can also be observed in eukaryotic proteins or when comparing proteins that are adapted to temperatures that are more subtly different. When an organism is exposed to high temperatures, a subset of its proteins is overexpressed (heat-induced proteins), whereas others are either repressed (heat-repressed proteins) or remain unaffected. Here, we determine the expression levels of all genes in the eukaryotic model system Arabidopsis thaliana at 22 and 37 °C, and compare both the amino acid compositions and levels of intrinsic disorder of heat-induced and heat-repressed proteins. We show that, compared to heat-repressed proteins, heat-induced proteins are enriched in electrostatically charged amino acids and depleted in polar amino acids, mirroring thermophile proteins. However, in contrast with thermophile proteins, heat-induced proteins are enriched in intrinsically disordered regions, and depleted in hydrophobic amino acids. Our results indicate that temperature adaptation at the level of amino acid composition and intrinsic disorder can be observed not only in proteins of thermophilic organisms, but also in eukaryotic heat-induced proteins; the underlying adaptation pathways, however, are similar but not the same.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Mol Sci

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intrinsically disordered proteins, protein thermostability, salt bridges, temperature response