SAXS Reveals the Stabilization Effects of Modified Sugars on Model Proteins

Astra Piccinini, Eva C. Lourenço, Osvaldo S. Ascenso, Maria Rita Ventura, Heinz Amenitsch, Paolo Moretti, Paolo Mariani, Maria Grazia Ortore, Francesco Spinozzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many proteins are usually not stable under different stresses, such as temperature and pH variations, mechanical stresses, high concentrations, and high saline contents, and their transport is always difficult, because they need to be maintained in a cold regime, which is costly and very challenging to achieve in remote areas of the world. For this reason, it is extremely important to find stabilizing agents that are able to preserve and protect proteins against denaturation. In the present work, we investigate, by extensively using synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering experiments, the stabilization effect of five different sugar-derived compounds developed at ExtremoChem on two model proteins: myoglobin and insulin. The data analysis, based on a novel method that combines structural and thermodynamic features, has provided details about the physical-chemical processes that regulate the stability of these proteins in the presence of stabilizing compounds. The results clearly show that some modified sugars exert a greater stabilizing effect than others, being able to maintain the active forms of proteins at temperatures higher than those in which proteins, in the absence of stabilizers, reach denatured states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Insulin
  • Myoglobin
  • Protein stabilization
  • Small-angle X-ray scattering
  • Solvation
  • Thermodynamic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

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