Design of stability at extreme alkaline pH in streptococcal protein G

Benjamin Palmer, Katy Angus, Linda Taylor, Jim Warwicker, Jeremy P. Derrick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Protein G (PrtG) is widely used as an affinity-based ligand for the purification of IgG. It would be desirable to improve the resistance of affinity chromatography ligands, such as PrtG, to commercial cleaning-in-place procedures using caustic alkali (0.5 M NaOH). It has been shown that Asn residues are the most susceptible at extreme alkaline pH: here, we show that replacement of all three Asn residues within the IgG-binding domain of PrtG only improves stability towards caustic alkali by about 8-fold. Study of the effects of increasing pH on PrtG by fluorescence and CD shows that the protein unfolds progressively between pH 11.5 and 13.0. Calculation of the variation in electrostatic free energy with pH indicated that deprotonation of Tyr, Lys and Arg side-chains at high pH would destabilize PrtG. Introduction of the triple mutation Y3F/T16I/T18I into PrtG stabilized it by an extra 6.8 kcal/mol and the unfolding of the protein occurred at a pH of about 13, or 1.5 pH units higher than wild type. The results show that strategies for the stabilization of proteins at extreme alkaline pH should consider thermodynamic stabilization that will retain the tertiary structure of the protein and modification of surface electrostatics, as well as mutation of alkali-susceptible residues. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)222-230
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of biotechnology
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2008


    • Alkaline stability
    • Protein G
    • Thermodynamic stability


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