Electromagnetic fields may disturb protein folding. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Non-thermal effects of electromagnetic fields at mobile phone frequency on the refolding of an intracellular protein: myoglobin.
J Cell Biochem. 2004 Sep 1 ;93(1):188-96. PMID: 15352175
Non-thermal effects induced by exposure to microwave electromagnetic field (MW-EMF) at 1.95 MHz, a frequency used in mobile communication, have been observed on the refolding kinetics of the heme binding site in an intracellular protein: tuna myoglobin, starting from acidic conditions. We have selected myoglobin because it can be considered a good model to study protein interactions with MW-EMF for its well-known high-resolution crystallographic structure. Myoglobin solutions at pH 3.0 were subjected to 3 h exposure to microwave field (with a specific absorption rate of 51 +/- 1 mW/g); the heme site refolding has been followed by measuring the molecular absorption in the Soret spectral region and the data were fitted to a bi-exponential model. The kinetics of exposed samples appear to be slowered by MW-EMF action. Moreover, the tryptophanyl lifetime distribution of the exposed protein, as deduced by the analysis of the fluorescence emission decay from its single tryptophan, appears sharper if compared to non-exposed protein samples. This observation suggests that the presence of MW-EMF could affect the propensity of protein molecules to populate specific conformational substates among which myoglobin molecules fluctuate at acidic pH. Changes in the structural fluctuation caused by MW perturbation can affect differently the aggregation process that occurs competitively during the protein folding, so representing a potential risk for protein"misfolding."These data suggest that MW-EMF could have also biochemical and, consequently, biological effects on eukaryotic cells that are still under investigation.