Influence of methionine oxidation on the aggregation of recombinant human growth hormone

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Oxidation of methionine (Met) residues is one of the major chemical degradations of therapeutic proteins. This chemical degradation can occur at various stages during production and storage of a biotherapeutic drug. During the oxidation process, the side chain of methionine residue undergoes a chemical modification, with the thioether group substituted by a sulfoxide group. In previous papers, we showed that oxidation of the two most accessible methionine residues of recombinant human growth hormone (r-hGH), Met14 and Met125, has no influence on the conformation of the protein [1]. However, the oxidized r-hGH is less thermally stable than the native protein [2]. In the current work, the consequences of the oxidation of these two methionine residues on the aggregation of r-hGH were investigated. The aggregation properties and kinetics of the native and oxidized r-hGH were measured in different buffers with both spectroscopic and chromatographic methods. Stabilities of oxidized and non-oxidized r-hGH were studied after storage at 37 °C and freeze/thawing cycles. Methionine oxidation influenced the aggregation properties of r-hGH. In accelerated stability studies at 37 °C, oxidized hormone aggregated more and faster than non-oxidized hormone. In freezing/thawing stability studies, it was found that oxidized r-hGH was less stable than its non-oxidized counterpart. In case of hGH, we have shown that chemical degradations such as oxidation can affect its physical stability and can induce aggregation.

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