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BMC Biotechnol. 2009 Mar 11;9:19. doi: 10.1186/1472-6750-9-19.

An optimised system for refolding of human glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase.

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School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Conway Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.



Human glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), active in both dimer and tetramer forms, is the key entry enzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), providing NADPH for biosynthesis and various other purposes, including protection against oxidative stress in erythrocytes. Accordingly haemolytic disease is a major consequence of G6PD deficiency mutations in man, and many severe disease phenotypes are attributed to G6PD folding problems. Therefore, a robust refolding method with high recovery yield and reproducibility is of particular importance to study those clinical mutant enzymes as well as to shed light generally on the refolding process of large multi-domain proteins.


The effects of different chemical and physical variables on the refolding of human recombinant G6PD have been extensively investigated. L-Arg, NADP+ and DTT are all major positive influences on refolding, and temperature, protein concentration, salt types and other additives also have significant impacts. With the method described here, ~70% enzyme activity could be regained, with good reproducibility, after denaturation with Gdn-HCl, by rapid dilution of the protein, and the refolded enzyme displays kinetic and CD properties indistinguishable from those of the native protein. Refolding under these conditions is relatively slow, taking about 7 days to complete at room temperature even in the presence of cyclophilin A, a peptidylprolyl isomerase reported to increase refolding rates. The refolded protein intermediates shift from dominant monomer to dimer during this process, the gradual emergence of dimer correlating well with the regain of enzyme activity.


L-Arg is the key player in the refolding of human G6PD, preventing the aggregation of folding intermediate, and NADP+ is essential for the folding intermediate to adopt native structure. The refolding protocol can be applied to produce high recovery yield of folded protein with unaltered properties, paving the way for future studies on clinical G6PD mutants with folding defects and providing a useful model system to study the folding process of oligomeric proteins.

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