Send to

Choose Destination
Biochemistry. 2001 Oct 16;40(41):12299-311.

Hierarchical protein folding: asymmetric unfolding of an insulin analogue lacking the A7-B7 interchain disulfide bridge.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44016, USA.


The landscape paradigm of protein folding can enable preferred pathways on a funnel-like energy surface. Hierarchical preferences may be manifest as a nonrandom pathway of disulfide pairing. Stepwise stabilization of structural subdomains among on-pathway intermediates is proposed to underlie the disulfide pathway of proinsulin and related molecules. Here, effects of pairwise serine substitution of insulin's exposed interchain disulfide bridge (Cys(A7)-Cys(B7)) are characterized as a model of a late intermediate. Untethering cystine A7-B7 in an engineered monomer causes significantly more marked decreases in the thermodynamic stability and extent of folding than occur on pairwise substitution of internal cystine A6-A11 [Weiss, M. A., Hua, Q. X., Jia, W., Chu, Y. C., Wang, R. Y., and Katsoyannis, P. G. (2000) Biochemistry 39, 15429-15440]. Although substantially disordered and without significant biological activity, the untethered analogue contains a molten subdomain comprising cystine A20-B19 and a native-like cluster of hydrophobic side chains. Remarkably, A and B chains make unequal contributions to this folded moiety; the B chain retains native-like supersecondary structure, whereas the A chain is largely disordered. These observations suggest that the B subdomain provides a template to guide folding of the A chain. Stepwise organization of insulin-like molecules supports a hierarchic view of protein folding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center