Role of the 6-20 disulfide bridge in the structure and activity of epidermal growth factor

Kevin J. Barnham, Allan M. Torres, Dianne Alewood, Paul F. Alewood, Teresa Domagala, Edouard C. Nice, Raymond S. Norton

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Two synthetic analogues of murine epidermal growth factor, [Abu6, 20] mEGF4-48 (where Abu denotes amino-butyric acid) and [G1, M3, K21, H40] mEGF1- 48, have been investigated by NMR spectroscopy. [Abu6, 20] mEGF4-48 was designed to determine the contribution of the 6-20 disulfide bridge to the structure and function of mEGF. The overall structure of this analogue was similar to that of native mEGF, indicating that the loss of the 6-20 disulfide bridge did not affect the global fold of the molecule. Significant structural differences were observed near the N-terminus, however, with the direction of the polypeptide chain between residues four and nine being altered such that these residues were now located on the opposite face of the main β-sheet from their position in native mEGF. Thermal denaturation experiments also showed that the structure of [Abu6, 20] mEGF4-48 was less stable than that of mEGF. Removal of this disulfide bridge resulted in a significant loss of both mitogenic activity in Balb/c 3T3 cells and receptor binding on A431 cells compared with native mEGF and mEGF4-48, implying that the structural changes in [Abu6, 20] mEGF4-48, although limited to the N- terminus, were sufficient to interfere with receptor binding. The loss of binding affinity probably arose mainly from steric interactions of the dislocated N-terminal region with part of the receptor binding surface of EGF. [G1, M3, K21, H40] mEGF1-48 was also synthesized in order to compare the synthetic polypeptide with the corresponding product of recombinant expression. Its mitogenic activity in Balb/c 3T3 cells was similar to that of native mEGF and analysis of its 1H chemical shifts suggested that its structure was also very similar to native.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1738-1749
Number of pages12
JournalProtein Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Disulfide connectivities
  • Murine epidermal growth factor
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Protein structure

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