Domain 1 of CD2 (CD2.D1) forms a conventional Ig fold stabilised by non-covalent antiparallel contacts between β-strands. Removing two residues from the middle of the protein sequence, where the polypeptide chain normally folds back upon itself, stabilises an open conformation. In this modified molecule, the optimum evolved contacts between side-chains can only be satisfied through the antiparallel association of two chains to create a symmetrical pair of pseudo-domains. Here, we describe the dynamics of the switch between monomeric and dimeric states and demonstrate the extension of this novel underlying principle to trimer and tetramer formation. The ability of a protein molecule to form higher-order antiparallel structures is reminiscent of the behaviour of hairpins, duplexes, three-way and Holliday junctions in DNA.
- Domain swapping
- Immunoglobulin superfamily domains
- Protein folding