A role for indels in the evolution of Cro protein folds

Katie L. Stewart, Michael R. Nelson, Karen V. Eaton, William J. Anderson, Matthew H.J. Cordes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Insertions and deletions in protein sequences, or indels, can disrupt structure and may result in changes in protein folds during evolution or in association with alternative splicing. Pfl 6 and Xfaso 1 are two proteins in the Cro family that share a common ancestor but have different folds. Sequence alignments of the two proteins show two gaps, one at the N terminus, where the sequence of Xfaso 1 is two residues shorter, and one near the center of the sequence, where the sequence of Pfl 6 is five residues shorter. To test the potential importance of indels in Cro protein evolution, we generated hybrid variants of Pfl 6 and Xfaso 1 with indels in one or both regions, chosen according to several plausible sequence alignments. All but one deletion variant completely unfolded both proteins, showing that a longer N-terminal sequence was critical for Pfl 6 folding and a longer central region sequence was critical for Xfaso 1 folding. By contrast, Xfaso 1 tolerated a longer N-terminal sequence with little destabilization, and Pfl 6 tolerated central region insertions, albeit with substantial effects on thermal stability and some perturbation of the surrounding structure. None of the mutations appeared to convert one stable fold into the other. On the basis of this two-protein comparison, short insertion and deletion mutations probably played a role in evolutionary fold change in the Cro family, but were also not the only factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1988-1996
Number of pages9
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Alternative splicing
  • Deletion mutations
  • Disruptive mutations
  • Insertion mutations
  • Structural evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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