N- and C-terminal fragments of a globular protein constructed by elongation of modules as a units associated for functional complementation.
We have designed a minibarnase by removing one module from barnase, a bacterial RNase from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. Barnase, consisting of 110 amino acid residues, is decomposed into six modules, M1-M6. Module is defined as a peptide segment consisting of contiguous amino acid residues that makes a small compact conformation within a globular domain. To understand the role of module in protein architecture, we analyzed NMR and CD spectra of a minibarnase, which lacked 26 amino acid residues corresponding to module M2. We demonstrated the formation of hydrophobic cores in the minibarnase similar to those of barnase. Although its conformational stability against acids and heat was reduced in comparison with barnase, the minibarnase retained cooperative folding character (two-state folding). Therefore, the folding of the minibarnase consisting of modules M1 and M3-M6 is independent to some extent of module M2. This finding may be useful for future module-based protein design.