Protein expression and purification

Expression screening of membrane proteins with cell-free protein synthesis.

PMID 22270086


Detailed biophysical studies of integral membrane proteins are often hampered by sample preparation difficulties. Membrane proteins are typically difficult to express in sufficient amounts to enable the use of demanding techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography for structural biology. Here, we show that an inexpensive batch-based cell-free expression system can be a viable alternative for production of a wide range of different membrane proteins, both of prokaryotic and eukaryotic origin. Out of 38 tested protein constructs, 37 express at levels suitable for structural biology, i.e. enough to produce several milligrams of protein routinely and without excessive costs. This success rate was not anticipated and is even more impressive considering that more than half of the expressed proteins where of mammalian origin. A detergent screen identified Brij-58 as the, in general, most successful choice for co-translational solubilization of the expressed proteins.