Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Watson J. Lees

First Advisor's Committee Title

Major Professor

Second Advisor's Name

Konstantinos Kavallieratos

Third Advisor's Name

Lidia Kos

Fourth Advisor's Name

Kevin O'Shea

Fifth Advisor's Name

Xiaotang Wang


BPTI, folding pathway, protein folding, GSSG and GSH, aromatic disulfides, HPLC

Date of Defense



The oxidative folding pathway of the disulfide containing protein bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) was one of the first to be elucidated and has served as a basis for understanding the folding pathways of other proteins. During the oxidative folding of reduced BPTI, two intermediates (N' and N*) accumulate in significant amounts and act as kinetic traps. Both N' and N* bury their two remaining free thiols in their hydrophobic cores, which inhibits further oxidation. Historically, the rate limiting step was considered to be the intramolecular rearrangements of N' and N* to another intermediate with two free thiols, NSH. The two free thiols in NSH are solvent-exposed and easily oxidized to a disulfide, producing native protein (N). Nevertheless, our research using reduced BPTI indicated that the folding rate of N* to N was proportional to the concentration of added glutathione disulfide (GSSG), inconsistent with the slow intramolecular rearrangement of N* to NSH. To confirm our initial results, the intermediate N* was purified and refolded in the presence of GSSG. The conversion of N* to N was dependent upon the disulfide concentration and singly mixed disulfide N*(SG) was observed during folding. These results emphasize that the folding of N* can proceed via a growth type pathway, direct oxidation of the two remaining thiols in N* by an exogenous small molecule disulfide, such as GSSG, to form N. Folding of reduced BPTI via N* was performed under changing concentrations of GSSG and GSH as a function of time. The folding was improved dramatically in terms of rate and yield.

Aromatic disulfides and thiols have been demonstrated to improve the folding efficiency of disulfide containing proteins including ribonuclease A (RNase A) and lysozyme. Herein, N* and N' were refolded in the presence of aromatic disulfides. Folding of the two kinetic traps with aromatic disulfides indicated that folding proceed via a growth type pathway. The singly and doubly mixed disulfide intermediates were observed during most folding reactions. The oxidative folding of reduced BPTI with aromatic disulfides and thiols were also investigated. Reduced BPTI can be folded to disulfide intermediates rapidly.





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