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In Vitro Folding/Unfolding of Insulin/Single-Chain Insulin

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Insulin is a double-chain (designated A and B chain respectively) protein hormone containing three disulfides, while insulin is synthesized in vivo as a single-chain precursor and folded well before being released from B-cells. Although the structure and function of insulin have been well characterized, the progress in oxidative folding pathway studies of insulin has been very slow, mainly due to the difficulties brought about by its disulfide-linked double-chain structure. To overcome these difficulties, we recently studied the in vitro oxidative folding process of two single-chain insulins: porcine insulin precursor (PIP) and human proinsulin (HPI). Based on the analysis of the intermediates captured during folding process, the folding pathways have been proposed for PIP and HPI separately. Similarities between the two folding pathways disclose some common principles that govern the insulin folding process. The following unfolding studies of PIP and HPI further indicate that C-peptide might also function during the folding of proinsulin. Here, we gave a brief review on in vitro folding/unfolding process of insulin and single-chain insulin. The implication of these studies on protein folding has also been discussed.

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Keywords: Disulfide; Folding; Insulin; Single-chain insulin; Unfolding

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yue-Yang Road, Shanghai 200031, China.

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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