It has been shown previously [Tang, Wang & Tsou (1988) Biochem. J. 255, 451-455] that, under appropriate conditions, native insulin can be obtained from scrambled insulin or the S-sulphonates of the chains with a yield of 25-30%, together with reaction products containing the separated A and B chains. The native hormone is by far the predominant product among the isomers containing both chains. It is now shown that the presence of added C peptide has no appreciable effect on the yield of native insulin. At higher temperatures the content of the native hormone decreases whereas those of the separated chains increase, and in no case was scrambled insulin containing both chains the predominant product in the absence of denaturants. Both the scrambling and the unscrambling reactions give similar h.p.l.c. profiles for the products. Under similar conditions cross-linked insulin with native disulphide linkages can be obtained from the scrambled molecule or from the S-sulphonate derivative with yields of 50% and 75% respectively at 4 degrees C, and with a dilute solution of the hexa-S-sulphonate yields better than 90% can be obtained. The regenerated product is shown to have the native disulphide bridges by treatment with CNBr to give insulin and by the identity of the h.p.l.c. profile of its peptic hydrolysate with that for cross-linked insulin. It appears that the insulin A and B chains contain sufficient information for the formation of the native molecule and that the role of the connecting C peptide is to bring and to keep the two chains together.

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