PEGylation of protein side-chains has been used for more than 30 years to enhance the pharmacokinetic properties of protein drugs, and has been enabled by the recent development of many chemoselective reactions for protein side-chain modification. However, there are no structure- or sequence-based guidelines for selecting sites that provide optimal PEG-based pharmacokinetic enhancement with minimal loss to biological activity. Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to protein PEGylation. In chapter 2 we use the WW domain of the human protein Pin 1 (WW) as a model system to probe the impact of PEG on protein conformational stability. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches, we develop a structure-based method for predicting which sites within WW are most likely to experience PEG-based stabilization, and show that this method correctly predicts the location of a stabilizing PEGylation site within the chicken Src SH3 domain. PEG-based stabilization in WW is associated with enhanced resistance to proteolysis, is entropic in origin, and likely involves disruption by PEG of the network of hydrogen-bound solvent molecules that surround the protein. Chapter 3 shows that PEG-based stabilization of the WW domain depends strongly on the identity of the PEG-protein linker, with the most stabilizing linkers involving conjugation of PEG to an Asn side-chain amide nitrogen. Chapter 4 investigates the interplay between structure-based guidelines for PEG-base stabilization developed in chapter 2 and the different chemistries explored in chapter 3.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





PEGylation, Therapeutic Proteins, Thermodynamic Stability, Circular Dichroism, beta-sheet

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Chemistry Commons