JOURNAL ARTICLE

Dynamic control of protein conformation transition in chromatographic separation based on hydrophobic interactions: molecular dynamics simulation

Lin Zhang, Diannan Lu, Zheng Liu
Journal of Chromatography. A 2009 March 20, 1216 (12): 2483-90
19178912
Conformational transitions of a protein in hydrophobic interaction based chromatography, including hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) and reversed-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC), and their impact on the separation process and performance were probed by molecular dynamics simulation of a 46-bead beta-barrel coarse-grained model protein in a confined pore, which represents the porous adsorbent. The transition of the adsorbed protein from the native conformation to an unfolded one occurred as a result of strong hydrophobic interactions with the pore surface, which reduced the formation of protein aggregates. The conformational transition was also displayed in the simulation once an elution buffer characterized by weaker hydrophobicity was introduced to strip protein from pore surface. The discharged proteins that underwent conformational transition were prone to aggregation; thus, an unsatisfactory yield of the native protein was obtained. An orthogonal experiment revealed that in addition to the strengths of the protein-protein and protein-adsorbent hydrophobic interactions, the elution time required to reduce the above-mentioned interactions also determined the yield of native protein by HIC and RPLC. Stepwise elution, characterized by sequential reduction of the hydrophobic interactions between the protein and adsorbent, was presented as a dynamic strategy for tuning conformational transitions to favor the native conformation and reduce the formation of protein aggregates during the elution process. The yield of the native protein obtained by this dynamic operation strategy was higher than that obtained by steady-state elution. The simulation study qualitatively reproduced the experimental observations and provided molecular insight that would be helpful for designing and optimizing HIC and RPLC separation of proteins.

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