ortho- and meta-substituted aromatic thiols are efficient redox buffers that increase the folding rate of a disulfide-containing protein

J Biotechnol. 2006 Aug 20;125(1):39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2006.02.007. Epub 2006 Apr 17.


Thiol based redox buffers are used to enhance the folding rates of disulfide-containing proteins in vitro. Traditionally, small molecule aliphatic thiols such as glutathione are employed. Recently, we have demonstrated that aromatic thiols can further enhance protein-folding rates. In the presence of para-substituted aromatic thiols the folding rate of a disulfide-containing protein was increased by 4-23 times over that measured for glutathione. However, several important practical issues remain to be addressed. Aromatic thiols have never been tested in the presence of denaturants such as guanidine hydrochloride. Only two of the para-substituted aromatic thiols previously examined are commercially available. To expand the number of aromatic thiols for protein folding, several commercially available meta- and ortho-substituted aromatic thiols were studied. Furthermore, an ortho-substituted aromatic thiol, easily obtained from inexpensive starting materials, was investigated. Folding rates of scrambled ribonuclease A at pH 6.0, 7.0 and 7.7, with ortho- and meta-substituted aromatic thiols, were up to 10 times greater than those with glutathione. In the presence of the common denaturant guanidine hydrochloride (0.5M) aromatic thiols provided 100% yield of active protein while maintaining equivalent folding rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Buffers
  • Disulfides / chemistry*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glutathione / chemistry
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • Guanidine / chemistry
  • Guanidine / pharmacology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Protein Folding*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Ribonuclease, Pancreatic / chemistry
  • Ribonuclease, Pancreatic / metabolism
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / chemistry*
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / pharmacology


  • Buffers
  • Disulfides
  • Proteins
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Ribonuclease, Pancreatic
  • Glutathione
  • Guanidine