PEGylation has been used for decades to enhance the pharmacokinetic properties of protein therapeutics. This method has been effective at increasing the serum half-life of these drugs, but the mechanism of how it does this is unclear. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the methods of PEGylation. In chapter 2 we show that the effect of PEGylation on the conformational stability of the WW domain differs based on amino acid linker and conjugation site. We show that all positions in the WW domain that were tested can be stabilized by at least one amino acid linker. The rate of proteolysis is proportional to the degree of conformational stability. Chapter 3 shows that PEG-based desolvation can increase the strength of the interaction between two salt bridge residues, though the effect of structural context is unclear. A crystal structure shows that PEG occupies the space between the PEGylation site and the salt bridge, displacing water. In Chapter 4 we discuss the effect that PEGylation has on the interaction strength of a solvent exposed hydrophobic patch. When the c Log P of the hydrophobic patch increases, PEG increases the conformational stability of the WW domain more dramatically. Chapter 5 is about the effect of PEG based desolvation on the strength of an NH-π hydrogen bond in the WW domain between Trp11 and Asn26. When Trp11 is mutated to Phe, Tyr and naphthylalanine (Nal), the melting temperatures correlate with the calculated interaction energies between the sidechain arene of the hydrogen bond acceptor and formamide. When Asn26 is PEGylated in the presence of each of these amino acids, the effect that PEG has on the conformational stability of the WW domain correlates with the melting temperature of the nonPEGylated variants, the calculated interaction energies, the arene molecular polarizability, and the arene molar volume.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



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PEG, PEGylation, conformational stability, protein therapeutics, desolvation, noncovalent interactions