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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Efficient refolding of aggregation-prone citrate synthase by polyol osmolytes: how well are protein folding and stability aspects coupled?

Efficient refolding of proteins and prevention of their aggregation during folding are of vital importance in recombinant protein production and in finding cures for several diseases. We have used citrate synthase ( CS) as a model to understand the mechanism of aggregation during refolding and its prevention using several known structure-stabilizing cosolvent additives of the polyol series. Interestingly, no parallel correlation between the folding effect and the general stabilizing effect exerted by polyols was observed. Although increasing concentrations of polyols increased protein stability in general, the refolding yields for CS decreased at higher polyol concentrations, with erythritol reducing the folding yields at all concentrations tested. Among the various polyols used, glycerol was the most effective in enhancing the CS refolding yield, and a complete recovery of enzymatic activity was obtained at 7 m glycerol and 10 mug/ml protein, a result superior to the action of the molecular chaperones GroEL and GroES in vitro. A good correlation between the refolding yields and the suppression of protein aggregation by glycerol was observed, with no aggregation detected at 7 m. The polyols prevented the aggregation of CS depending on the number of hydroxyl groups in them. Stopped-flow fluorescence kinetics experiments suggested that polyols, including glycerol, act very early in the refolding process, as no fast and slow phases were detectable. The results conclusively demonstrate that both the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects are critical in the folding process and that all structure-stabilizing molecules need not always help in productive folding to the native state. These findings are important for the rational design of small molecules for efficient refolding of various aggregation-prone proteins of commercial and medical relevance.[1]


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