The influence of ligand binding and conformation state on the thermostability of hexameric zinc-insulin was studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The insulin hexamer exists in equilibrium between the forms T6, T3R3, and R6. Phenolic ligands induce and stabilize the T3R3- and R6-states which are further stabilized by binding of certain anions that do not stabilize the T6-state. It was shown that the thermostability of the resorcinol-stabilized R6-state was significantly higher than that of the T6-state. Further analysis showed that phenol- and m-cresol-stabilized R6-hexamer loses three ligands before reaching the unfolding temperature and hence unfolds from the T3R3-state. The relative affinity of the four tested anionic ligands was found, by DSC, to be thiocyanate = 4-hydroxy-3-nitrobenzoate p-aminobenzoate chloride. The results correlate with other methods and demonstrate that DSC provides a general and useful method of evaluation of both phenolic and anionic ligand binding to insulin without the use of probes or other alterations of the system of interest. However, it is a prerequisite that the binding is strong enough to saturate the binding sites at temperatures around the unfolding transition.
Biochemistry, 2006, Vol 45, Issue 12, p. 4014-4024