Alpha-2-macroglobulin is acutely sensitive to freezing and lyophilization: Implications for structural and functional studies

Amy R. Wyatt, Janet R. Kumita, Natalie E. Farrawell, Christopher Martin Dobson, Mark R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Alpha-2-macroglobulin is an abundant secreted protein that is of particular interest because of its diverse ligand binding profile and multifunctional nature, which includes roles as a protease inhibitor and as a molecular chaperone. The activities of alpha-2-macroglobulin are typically dependent on whether its conformation is native or transformed (i.e. adopts a more compact conformation after interactions with proteases or small nucleophiles), and are also influenced by dissociation of the native alpha-2-macroglobulin tetramer into stable dimers. Alpha-2-macroglobulin is predominately present as the native tetramer in vivo; once purified from human blood plasma, however, alpha-2-macroglobulin can undergo a number of conformational changes during storage, including transformation, aggregation or dissociation. We demonstrate that, particularly in the presence of sodium chloride or amine containing compounds, freezing and/or lyophilization of alpha-2-macroglobulin induces conformational changes with functional consequences. These conformational changes in alpha-2-macroglobulin are not always detected by standard native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, but can be measured using bisANS fluorescence assays. Increased surface hydrophobicity of alpha-2-macroglobulin, as assessed by bisANS fluorescence measurements, is accompanied by (i) reduced trypsin binding activity, (ii) increased chaperone activity, and (iii) increased binding to the surfaces of SH-SY5Y neurons, in part, via lipoprotein receptors. We show that sucrose (but not glycine) effectively protects native alpha-2-macroglobulin from denaturation during freezing and/or lyophilization, thereby providing a reproducible method for the handling and long-term storage of this protein.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0130036
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alpha-2-macroglobulin

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