Bioconjugate chemistry

New strategy for reversible modulation of protein activity through site-specific conjugation of small molecule and polymer.

PMID 24971741


A new strategy for accurate and reversible modulation of protein activity via simple conjugation of the sulfhydryl modifier and polymer with the introduced Cys residue in protein was developed in this study. With Escherichia coli inorganic pyrophosphatase (PPase) as a model protein, we used site-directed mutagenesis to generate a mutant PPase (PPC) with a substituted Cys residue at the specific Lys-148 site, which is within a conserved sequence near the active site and exposed to the surface of the PPC for chemical reaction. The site-specific conjugation of the mutated Cys residue in PPC with sulfhydryl modifier p-chloromercuribenzoate (PCMB) and pyridyl disulfide-functionalized poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) resulted in obvious decrease or complete loss of the catalytic activity of PPC, due to the conformational change of PPC. Compared with the effect of small molecule modification (PCMB), the pHEMA conjugation led to greater inhibitory effect on protein activity due to the significant change of the tertiary structure of PPC after conjugation. Moreover, the protein activity can be restored to different extents by the treatment with different amount of reductive reagents, which can result in the dissociation between PPC and PCMB or pHEMA to recover the protein conformation. This study provides a new strategy for efficient control of protein activity at different levels by site-specific conjugation of a small molecule and polymer.