Physical origin of hydrophobicity studied in terms of cold denaturation of proteins: Comparison between water and simple fluids

Takashi Yoshidome, Masahiro Kinoshita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


A clue to the physical origin of the hydrophobicity is in the experimental observations, which show that it is weakened at low temperatures. By considering a solvophobic model protein immersed in water and three species of simple solvents, we analyze the temperature dependence of the changes in free energy, energy, and entropy of the solvent upon protein unfolding. The angle-dependent and radial-symmetric integral equation theories and the morphometric approach are employed in the analysis. Each of the changes is decomposed into two terms, which depend on the excluded volume and on the area and curvature of the solvent-accessible surface, respectively. The excluded-volume term of the entropy change is further decomposed into two components representing the protein-solvent pair correlation and the protein-solvent-solvent triplet and higher-order correlation, respectively. We show that water crowding in the system becomes more serious upon protein unfolding but this effect becomes weaker as the temperature is lowered. If the hydrophobicity originated from the water structuring near a nonpolar solute, it would be strengthened upon lowering of the temperature. Among the three species of simple solvents, considerable weakening of the solvophobicity at low temperatures is observed only for the solvent where the particles interact through a strong attractive potential and the particle size is as small as that of water. Even in the case of this solvent, however, cold denaturation of a protein cannot be reproduced. It would be reproducible if the attractive potential was substantially enhanced, but such enhancement causes the appearance of the metastability limit for a single liquid phase. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14554-14566
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov 14
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical origin of hydrophobicity studied in terms of cold denaturation of proteins: Comparison between water and simple fluids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this