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G. L. Francis, M. Ross, F. J. Ballard, S. J. Milner, C. Senn, K. A. McNeil, J. C. Wallace, R. King and J. R. E. Wells

ABSTRACT

An efficient expression system in Escherichia coli for several biologically active insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) fusion peptide analogues is described. These novel IGF-I fusion protein analogues have properties that make them very useful reagents in the investigation of IGF-I action. The analogues comprise an IGF-I sequence and the first 11 amino acids of methionyl porcine growth hormone (pGH) and include [Met1]-pGH(1–11)-Val-Asn-IGF-I, which contains the authentic IGF-I sequence, and two analogues, [Met1]-pGH(1–11)-Val-Asn-[Gly3]-IGF-I and [Met1]-pGH(1–11)-Val-Asn-[Arg3]-IGF-I, where Glu3 in the human IGF-I sequence has been replaced by Gly or Arg respectively. The three peptides are referred to as Long IGF-I, Long [Gly3]-IGF-I or Long [Arg3]-IGF-I depending on the IGF-I sequence present. Production of the purified fusion peptides was aided by folding the reduced and denatured fusion peptide sequence under conditions that gave very high yields of biologically active product. Introduction of a hydrophobic N-terminal extension peptide appears to facilitate the correct folding of the IGF-I analogues compared with that obtained previously when folding normal-length IGFs. The biological activities of the IGF-I fusion peptides were compared with authentic IGF-I and the truncated analogue, des(1–3)IGF-I. In L6 rat myoblasts, all the analogues were more potent than authentic IGF-I in their abilities to stimulate protein and DNA synthesis and inhibit protein breakdown. In H35 hepatoma cells, where the IGFs act through the insulin receptor, the Long IGF-I analogues maintained a similar potency relative to IGF-I as was observed in the L6 myoblasts. The order of biological potency in cell lines secreting IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) into the medium was Long [Arg3]IGF-I-des(1–3)IGF-I>Long [Gly3]-IGF-I>Long IGF-I>IGF-I. In chicken embryo fibroblasts, a cell line that does not secrete detectable IGFBPs into the medium, Long [Arg3]-IGF-I, was less potent than IGF-I. Investigation of receptor and IGFBP association by these analogues reinforced our previous findings that N-terminal analogues of IGF-I show increased biological potency due to changes in the degree of their IGFBP interactions.

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R. King, J. R. E. Wells, P. Krieg, M. Snoswell, J. Brazier, C. J. Bagley, J. C. Wallace, F. J. Ballard, M. Ross and G. L. Francis

ABSTRACT

The development of an efficient expression system for insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein is described. The fusion protein consists of an N-terminal extension made up of the first 46 amino acids of methionyl porcine GH ([Met1]-pGH) followed by the dipeptide Val-Asn. The latter two residues provide a unique hydroxylamine-sensitive link between [Met1]-pGH(1-46) and the N-terminal Gly of IGF-I. Downstream processing of the fusion proteins involved isolation of inclusion bodies, cleavage at the Asn-Gly bond, refolding of the reduced IGF-I peptide and purification to homogeneity. This expression system was also used to produce two variants of IGF-I in which Glu3 was substituted by either Gly or Arg to give [Gly3]-IGF-I and [Arg3]-IGF-I respectively. Production of milligram quantities of IGF-I peptide was readily achieved. The purity of the IGF-I, [Gly3]-IGF-I and [Arg3]-IGF-I was established by high-performance liquid chromatography and N-terminal sequence analysis. [Gly3]-IGF-I and [Arg3]-IGF-I were more potent than IGF-I in biological assays measuring stimulation of protein synthesis and DNA synthesis or inhibition of protein breakdown in rat L6 myoblasts. Both analogues bound very poorly to bovine IGF-binding protein-2 and slightly less well than IGF-I to the type-1 receptor on rat L6 myoblasts. We conclude that reduced binding to IGF-binding proteins rather than increased receptor binding is the likely explanation for the greater biological potency of the analogues compared with IGF-I.