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Biotechnol Bioeng. 1999 Jun 5;63(5):552-8.

Hydrostatic pressure rescues native protein from aggregates.

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Departamento de Bioquímica Médica, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.


Misfolding and misassembly of proteins are major problems in the biotechnology industry, in biochemical research, and in human disease. Here we describe a novel approach for reversing aggregation and increasing refolding by application of hydrostatic pressure. Using P22 tailspike protein as a model system, intermediates along the aggregation pathway were identified and quantitated by size-exclusion high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Tailspike aggregates were subjected to hydrostatic pressures of 2.4 kbar (35,000 psi). This treatment dissociated the tailspike aggregates and resulted in increased formation of native trimers once pressure was released. Tailspike trimers refolded at these pressures were fully active for formation of infectious viral particles. This technique can facilitate conversion of aggregates to native proteins without addition of chaotropic agents, changes in buffer, or large-scale dilution of reagents required for traditional refolding methods. Our results also indicate that one or more intermediates at the junction between the folding and aggregation pathways is pressure sensitive. This finding supports the hypothesis that specific determinants of recognition exist for protein aggregation, and that these determinants are similar to those involved in folding to the native state. An increased understanding of this specificity should lead to improved refolding methods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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