Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-glycoprotein interaction serves as a model for a biological membrane. To get mechanistic insight into the interaction of SDS and glycoprotein, the effect of SDS on bovine serum fetuin (BSF) was studied in subcritical micellar concentrations at pH 7.4 and pH 2 using multiple approaches. SDS interacts electrostatically with BSF through its negatively charged head groups at pH 2 and hydrophobically via its alkyl chains at pH 7.4 up to a 1:20 molar ratio of BSF to SDS. However, at higher concentrations of SDS, BSF undergoes amyloid fibril formation at pH 2, as confirmed by enhanced ThT fluorescence, β-sheet formation, and TEM microscopy, whereas BSF undergoes induction of an α-helical structure in the presence of higher SDS concentration at pH 7.4. The increase in α-helical content with increasing SDS concentrations constrains the environment around tryptophan. As a consequence, the interconversion of tryptophan conformers decreases, resulting in a decrement of the fluorescence lifetime for BSF in the presence of SDS at pH 7.4.
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