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Protein Expression and Purification Core FacilityPublications

The novel Fh8 and H fusion partners for soluble protein expression in Escherichia coli: a comparison with the traditional gene fusion technology.
Costa, S.J., Almeida, A., Castro, A., Domingues, L. & Besir, H.
Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Aug;97(15):6779-91. doi:10.1007/s00253-012-4559-1. Epub 2012 Nov 20.
The Escherichia coli host system is an advantageous choice for simple and inexpensive recombinant protein production but it still presents bottlenecks at expressing soluble proteins from other organisms. Several efforts have been taken to overcome E. coli limitations, including the use of fusion partners that improve protein expression and solubility. New fusion technologies are emerging to complement the traditional solutions. This work evaluates two novel fusion partners, the Fh8 tag (8 kDa) and the H tag (1 kDa), as solubility enhancing tags in E. coli and their comparison to commonly used fusion partners. A broad range comparison was conducted in a small-scale screening and subsequently scaled-up. Six difficult-to-express target proteins (RVS167, SPO14, YPK1, YPK2, Frutalin and CP12) were fused to eight fusion tags (His, Trx, GST, MBP, NusA, SUMO, H and Fh8). The resulting protein expression and solubility levels were evaluated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis before and after protein purification and after tag removal. The Fh8 partner improved protein expression and solubility as the well-known Trx, NusA or MBP fusion partners. The H partner did not function as a solubility tag. Cleaved proteins from Fh8 fusions were soluble and obtained in similar or higher amounts than proteins from the cleavage of other partners as Trx, NusA or MBP. The Fh8 fusion tag therefore acts as an effective solubility enhancer, and its low molecular weight potentially gives it an advantage over larger solubility tags by offering a more reliable assessment of the target protein solubility when expressed as a fusion protein.
Europe PMC

A new method to customize protein expression vectors for fast, efficient and background free parallel cloning.
Scholz, J., Besir, H., Strasser, C. & Suppmann, S.
BMC Biotechnol. 2013 Feb 14;13:12. doi: 10.1186/1472-6750-13-12.
BACKGROUND: Expression and purification of correctly folded proteins typically require screening of different parameters such as protein variants, solubility enhancing tags or expression hosts. Parallel vector series that cover all variations are available, but not without compromise. We have established a fast, efficient and absolutely background free cloning approach that can be applied to any selected vector. RESULTS: Here we describe a method to tailor selected expression vectors for parallel Sequence and Ligation Independent Cloning. SLIC cloning enables precise and sequence independent engineering and is based on joining vector and insert with 15-25 bp homologies on both DNA ends by homologous recombination. We modified expression vectors based on pET, pFastBac and pTT backbones for parallel PCR-based cloning and screening in E.coli, insect cells and HEK293E cells, respectively. We introduced the toxic ccdB gene under control of a strong constitutive promoter for counterselection of insert less vector. In contrast to DpnI treatment commonly used to reduce vector background, ccdB used in our vector series is 100% efficient in killing parental vector carrying cells and reduces vector background to zero. In addition, the 3' end of ccdB functions as a primer binding site common to all vectors. The second shared primer binding site is provided by a HRV 3C protease cleavage site located downstream of purification and solubility enhancing tags for tag removal. We have so far generated more than 30 different parallel expression vectors, and successfully cloned and expressed more than 250 genes with this vector series. There is no size restriction for gene insertion, clone efficiency is > 95% with clone numbers up to 200. The procedure is simple, fast, efficient and cost-effective. All expression vectors showed efficient expression of eGFP and different target proteins requested to be produced and purified at our Core Facility services. CONCLUSION: This new expression vector series allows efficient and cost-effective parallel cloning and thus screening of different protein constructs, tags and expression hosts.
Europe PMC

Multi-domain conformational selection underlies pre-mRNA splicing regulation by U2AF.
Mackereth, C.D., Madl, T., Bonnal, S., Simon, B., Zanier, K., Gasch, A., Rybin, V., Valcarcel, J. & Sattler, M.
Nature. 2011 Jul 13;475(7356):408-11. doi: 10.1038/nature10171.
Many cellular functions involve multi-domain proteins, which are composed of structurally independent modules connected by flexible linkers. Although it is often well understood how a given domain recognizes a cognate oligonucleotide or peptide motif, the dynamic interaction of multiple domains in the recognition of these ligands remains to be characterized. Here we have studied the molecular mechanisms of the recognition of the 3'-splice-site-associated polypyrimidine tract RNA by the large subunit of the human U2 snRNP auxiliary factor (U2AF65) as a key early step in pre-mRNA splicing. We show that the tandem RNA recognition motif domains of U2AF65 adopt two remarkably distinct domain arrangements in the absence or presence of a strong (that is, high affinity) polypyrimidine tract. Recognition of sequence variations in the polypyrimidine tract RNA involves a population shift between these closed and open conformations. The equilibrium between the two conformations functions as a molecular rheostat that quantitatively correlates the natural variations in polypyrimidine tract nucleotide composition, length and functional strength to the efficiency to recruit U2 snRNP to the intron during spliceosome assembly. Mutations that shift the conformational equilibrium without directly affecting RNA binding modulate splicing activity accordingly. Similar mechanisms of cooperative multi-domain conformational selection may operate more generally in the recognition of degenerate nucleotide or amino acid motifs by multi-domain proteins.
Europe PMC

A systematic screen for protein-lipid interactions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Gallego, O., Betts, M.J., Gvozdenovic-Jeremic, J., Maeda, K., Matetzki, C., Aguilar-Gurrieri, C., Beltran-Alvarez, P., Bonn, S., Fernandez-Tornero, C., Jensen, L.J., Kuhn, M., Trott, J., Rybin, V., Muller, C.W., Bork, P., Kaksonen, M., Russell, R.B. & Gavin, A.C.
Mol Syst Biol. 2010 Nov 30;6:430. doi: 10.1038/msb.2010.87.
Protein-metabolite networks are central to biological systems, but are incompletely understood. Here, we report a screen to catalog protein-lipid interactions in yeast. We used arrays of 56 metabolites to measure lipid-binding fingerprints of 172 proteins, including 91 with predicted lipid-binding domains. We identified 530 protein-lipid associations, the majority of which are novel. To show the data set's biological value, we studied further several novel interactions with sphingolipids, a class of conserved bioactive lipids with an elusive mode of action. Integration of live-cell imaging suggests new cellular targets for these molecules, including several with pleckstrin homology (PH) domains. Validated interactions with Slm1, a regulator of actin polarization, show that PH domains can have unexpected lipid-binding specificities and can act as coincidence sensors for both phosphatidylinositol phosphates and phosphorylated sphingolipids.
Europe PMC