Recombinant expression of heterologous proteins in E. coli is well established for a wide range of proteins, although in many cases, purifying soluble and properly folded proteins remains challenging (Sorensen and Mortensen, J Biotechnol 115:113–128, 2005; Correa and Oppezzo, Methods Mol Biol 1258:27–44, 2015). Proteins that contain disulfide bonds (e.g., cytokines, growth factors) are often particularly difficult to purify in soluble form and still need optimizing of protocols in almost every step of the process (Berkmen, Protein Expr Purif 82:240–251, 2012; de Marco, Microb Cell Fact 11:129, 2012). Expression of disulfide bonded proteins in the periplasm of E. coli is one approach that can help to obtain soluble protein with the correct disulfide bridges forming in the periplasm. This offers the appropriate conditions for disulfide formation although periplasmic expression can also result in low expression levels and incorrect folding of the target protein (Schlapschy and Skerra, Methods Mol Biol 705:211–224, 2011). Generation of specific antibodies often requires a specific antigenic sequence of a protein in order to get an efficient immune response and minimize cross-reactivity of antibodies. Larger proteins like GST (Glutathione-S-transferase) or MBP (maltose binding protein) as solubilizing fusion partners are frequently used to keep antigens soluble and immunize animals. This approach has the disadvantage that the immune response against the fusion partner leads to additional antibodies that need to be separated from the antigen-specific antibodies. For both classes of proteins mentioned above, a protocol has been developed and optimized using the human version of small ubiquitin-like modifier 3 (SUMO3) protein and its corresponding protease SenP2. This chapter describes the experimental steps for expression, purification, refolding, and cleavage that are applicable to both disulfide-bonded proteins with a defined structure and random protein fragments for antibody generation or larger peptides with defined sequence that are difficult express on their own.
SUMO fusion protein Disulfide bonded proteins Growth factors Cytokines Protein refolding Insoluble protein His-tag purification SenP2 protease Antigen purification
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