The conformations of human insulin precursors, proinsulin and preproinsulin, are described in terms of molecular dynamics simulations. Despite the presence of the C-peptide and/or the signal peptide, molecular dynamics calculations utilizing the hydration shell model over a period of 500 ps indicate that the native conformations of the A and B chains are well conserved in both cases. These results further support the NMR spectroscopy results that the C-peptide is relatively disordered and does not influence the overall conformation of the native structure. The robustness of the native structure as demonstrated by experiment and simulation will permit future protein engineering applications, whereby the expression or purification yields can be improved upon sequence modification of the C-peptide and/or the signal peptide.
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