Stabilization of bovine insulin against agitation-induced aggregation using RNA aptamers


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Abstract

Stabilization of monomeric insulin is a primary requirement for preserving the efficacy of the final formulation. Degraded and/or aggregated protein as well as the presence of any of the conventional excipients can result in immunogenic or anaphylactic reactions, and reduced bioavailability of the protein drug. The aim of this work was to select novel RNA-based stabilizers of bovine insulin which would recognize and bind to the monomeric protein and help retain its bioactivity. RNA aptamers were selected by an in vitro selection method. They were screened for their ability to inhibit insulin fibrillation using agitation as a stress condition. The in vitro activity of insulin was determined by phosphorylation of downstream proteins in the cell. In vivo bioactivity was determined in a diabetic rat model. RNA aptamers, which bound to insulin with very low dissociation constants and high specificity, were selected. These sequences were aligned and consensus regions were found. The RNA sequences had no effect on the signalling cascade initiated by insulin. The bioactivity of insulin, as measured by its ability to lower plasma glucose level in a diabetic rat model, also remained unchanged. RNA aptamers are a novel class of protein stabilizers which have the ability to disrupt protein–protein interactions and hence inhibit protein aggregation. Their non-toxic and non-immunogenic nature makes such formulations safe for use.

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