It is known that melittin in an aqueous solution undergoes a conformational transition between the monomer and tetramer by variation in temperature. The transition correlates closely with isomers of the proline residue; monomeric melittin including a trans proline peptide bond (trans-monomer) is involved directly in the transition, whereas monomeric melittin having a cis proline peptide bond (cis-monomer) is virtually not. The transition has been explored by using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in order to clarify the stability of the tetrameric conformation and the cooperativity of the transition. In the light of temperature dependence of chemical shifts of resonances from the isomeric monomers, we qualitatively estimate the temperature-, salt-, and concentration-dependence of the relative equilibrium populations of the trans-monomer and tetramer, and show that the tetramer has a maximum conformational stability at 30–45 °C and that the transition cooperativity is very low.
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