Refolding of denatured RNase A as a model of inclusion bodies was performed by reversed micelles formulated with sodium di-2-ethylhexyl sulfosuccinate (AOT) in isooctane. In the novel refolding process, a solid-liquid extraction was utilized as an alternative to the ordinary protein extraction by reversed micelles based on a liquid-liquid extraction. First, the effects of operational parameters such as concentration of AOT, Wo (=[H2O]/[AOT]), and pH were examined on the solubilization of solid denatured proteins into a reversed micellar solution. The solubilization was facilitated by a high AOT concentration, a high Wo value, and a high pH in water pools. These conditions are favorable for the dispersion of the solid protein aggregates in an organic solvent. Second, the renaturation of the denatured RNase A solubilized into the reversed micellar solution was conducted by addition of glutathione as a redox reagent. A complete renaturation of RNase A was accomplished by adjusting the composition of the redox reagent even at a high protein concentration in which protein aggregation would usually occur in aqueous media. In addition, the renaturation rates were improved by optimizing water content (Wo) and the pH of water pools in reversed micelles. Finally, the recovery of renatured RNase A from the reversed micellar solution was performed by adding a polar organic solvent such as acetone into the reversed micellar solution. This precipitation method was effective for recovering proteins from reversed micellar media without any significant reduction in enzymatic activity.
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