Microscopic mechanism for cold denaturation

Cristiano L. Dias, Tapio Ala-Nissila, Mikko Karttunen, Ilpo Vattulainen, Martin Grant

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112 Scopus citations


We elucidate the mechanism of cold denaturation through constant-pressure simulations for a model of hydrophobic molecules in an explicit solvent. We find that the temperature dependence of the hydrophobic effect induces, facilitates, and is the driving force for cold denaturation. The physical mechanism underlying this phenomenon is identified as the destabilization of hydrophobic contact in favor of solvent-separated configurations, the same mechanism seen in pressure-induced denaturation. A phenomenological explanation proposed for the mechanism is suggested as being responsible for cold denaturation in real proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 18 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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