Characterization of subdomain HA binding site of human serum albumin in its native, unfolded, and refolded states using small molecular probes

Osama K. Abou-Zied, Othman I.K. Al-Shihi

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460 Citations (Scopus)


Subdomain IIA binding site of human serum albumin (HSA) was characterized by examining the change in HSA fluorescence in the native, unfolded, and refolded states. The study was carried out in the absence and presence of small molecular probes using steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence measurements. 2-Pyridone, 3-pyridone, and 4-pyridone bear similar molecular structures to those found in many drugs and are used here as probes. They are found to specifically bind in subdomain IIA and cause a reduction in the fluorescence intensity and lifetime of the Trp-214 residue in native HSA which is located in the same subdomain. The efficiency of energy transfer from Trp-214 fluorescence to the probes was found to depend on the degree of the spectral overlap between the donor's fluorescence and the acceptor's absorption. After probe binding in subdomain IIA, the distance between the donor and acceptor was calculated using Förster theory. The calculated quenching rate constants and binding constants were also shown to depend on the degree of spectral overlap. The results point to a static quenching mechanism operating in the complexes. Denaturation of HSA in the presence of guanidine hydrochloride (GdnHCI) starts at [GdnHCI] > 1.0 M and is complete at [GdnHCI] > 6.0 M. Upon unfolding, two fluorescence peaks were observed. One peak was assigned to the fluorescence of Trp-214 in a polar environment, and the other peak was assigned to tyrosine fluorescence. A reduction of the fluorescence intensity of the two peaks upon binding of the probes to the denatured HSA indicates that Tyr-263 in subdomain IIA is one of the tyrosine residues responsible for the second fluorescence peak. The results were confirmed by measuring the fluorescence spectra and lifetimes of denatured HSA at different excitation wavelengths, and of L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine free in buffer. The measured lifetimes of denatured HSA are typical of tryptophan in a polar environment and are slightly reduced upon probe binding. Dilution of the denatured HSA by buffer results in a partial refolding of subdomain IIA. This partial refolding is attributed to some swelling of the binding site caused by water. The swelling prevents a full recovery from the denatured state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10793-10801
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - Aug 13 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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