The thermal stability of human insulin was studied by differential scanning microcalorimetry and near-UV circular dichroism as a function of zinc/protein ratio, to elucidate the dissociation and unfolding processes of insulin in different association states. Zinc-free insulin, which is primarily dimeric at room temperature, unfolded at approximately 70 degrees C. The two monomeric insulin mutants Asp(B28) and Asp(B9),Glu(B27) unfolded at higher temperatures, but with enthalpies of unfolding that were approximately 30% smaller. Small amounts of zinc caused a biphasic thermal denaturation pattern of insulin. The biphasic denaturation is caused by a redistribution of zinc ions during the heating process and results in two distinct transitions with T(m)'s of approximately 70 and approximately 87 degrees C corresponding to monomer/dimer and hexamer, respectively. At high zinc concentrations (>or=5 Zn(2+) ions/hexamer), only the hexamer transition is observed. The results of this study show that the thermal stability of insulin is closely linked to the association state and that the zinc hexamer remains stable at much higher temperatures than the monomer. This is in contrast to studies with chemical denaturants where it has been shown that monomer unfolding takes place at much higher denaturant concentrations than the dissociation of higher oligomers [Ahmad, A., et al. (2004) J. Biol. Chem. 279, 14999-15013].
Biochemistry, 2005, Vol 44, Issue 33, p. 11171-7
Amino Acid Substitution; Calorimetry, Differential Scanning; Circular Dichroism; Hot Temperature; Humans; Insulin; Point Mutation; Protein Denaturation; Protein Folding; Zinc