The kinetic properties of orthologous homologs (orthologs) of enzymes are typically correlated with environmental temperatures in species adapted to different thermal regimes, but correlations between adaptation temperature and enzyme thermal stability are less clear. Although the thermal stability of a protein is related chiefly to its primary structure (including post-translational modification), thermal stability can also be altered by extrinsic factors present in the intracellular milieu. Here, we present a comparative analysis of the thermal stability of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) orthologs from 22 congeneric species of porcelain crab (genera Petrolisthes and Allopetrolisthes) from a broad range of thermal habitats. Interspecific diversity of LDH stability is high: temperatures required for a 50 % loss of activity in 10 min ranged from 65 to 75.5 degrees C, corresponding to half-lives of less than 1 min to more than 3 h at 70 degrees C. Although stability is positively correlated with maximal habitat temperature in some sister taxa, phylogenetic comparative analysis incorporating all 22 species does not indicate that the interspecific diversity of LDH stability represents an adaptive response to current thermal habitats. Examination of the mechanistic bases of LDH stabilization indicates that differences in stability are related both to properties of the LDH molecule itself (intrinsic stability) and to the effects of extrinsic protein(s). Intrinsic differences were shown by the unfolding of structure during heating, as measured by circular dichroism spectroscopy. Stabilizing effects of extrinsic proteins are implied by the results of cellular fractionation experiments that removed low-molecular-mass solutes and proteins from the muscle homogenates. We conclude that the overall structural stability and functional properties of proteins can evolve independently and that in vivo protein-protein interactions can provide another means to regulate protein stability selectively.
- © 2001 by Company of Biologists