Water plays a fundamental role in protein stability. However, the effect of the properties of water on the behaviour of proteins is only partially understood. Several theories have been proposed to give insight into the mechanisms of cold and pressure denaturation, or the limits of temperature and pressure above which no protein has a stable, functional state, or how unfolding and aggregation are related. Here we review our results based on a theoretical approach that can rationalise the water contribution to protein solutions’ free energy. We show, using Monte Carlo simulations, how we can rationalise experimental data with our recent results. We discuss how our findings can help develop new strategies for the design of novel synthetic biopolymers or possible approaches for mitigating neurodegenerative pathologies.

To appear in Soft Matter Systems for Biomedical Applications, L. Bulavin and N. Lebovka eds. (Springer Nature, 2021)

Image courtesy of Joan Àguila Rojas