Insulin has been commonly adopted as a peptide drug to treat diabetes given its ability to facilitate the uptake of glucose from the blood. The development of oral insulin remains elusive over decades owing to its susceptibility to the enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and poor permeability through the intestinal epithelium upon dimerization. Recent experimental studies have revealed that certain O-linked glycosylation patterns could enhance insulin’s proteolytic stability and reduce its dimerization propensity, but the understanding of such phenomena at the molecular level is still evasive. To address this challenge, we propose and test several structural determinants that could potentially in uence insulin’s proteolytic stability and dimerization propensity. We used these as the metrics to assess the properties of interest from 10 s aggregate molecular dynamics of each of 12 targeted insulin glyco-variants from multiple wild-type crystal structures. We found that glycan-involved hydrogen bonds and glycan-dimer occlusion were useful metrics predicting the proteolytic stability and dimerization propensity of insulin, as was in part the solvent accessible surface area of proteolytic sites, while other plausible metrics were not generally predictive. This work helps better explain how O-linked glycosylation in uences the proteolytic stability and monomeric propensity of insulin, illuminating a path towards rational molecular design of insulin glycoforms.
This updated manuscript reflects changed we've made in response to reviewers' comments after submission to the Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design. This includes additional clarifying figures and text to the main manuscript, as well an additional analysis and figures of distributions in the Supplemental Information.
Supporting Information: Identifying signatures of proteolytic stability and monomeric propensity in O-glycosylated insulin using molecular simulation