The protein journal

Expression and characterization of recombinant ecarin.

PMID 22528138


The snake venom protease ecarin from Echis carinatus was expressed in stable transfected CHO-S cells grown in animal component free cell culture medium. Recombinant ecarin (r-ecarin) was secreted from the suspension adapted Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO-S) host cells as a pro-protein and activation to the mature form of r-ecarin occurred spontaneously during continued incubation of the cell culture at 37 °C after death of the host cells. Maximal ecarin activity was reached 7 days or more after cell culture viability had dropped to zero. The best producing CHO-S clone obtained produced up to 7,000 EU ecarin/litre in lab scale shaker cultures. The conversion of different concentrations of both prothrombin and prethrombin-2 as substrates for native and r-ecarin were examined with a chromogenic thrombin substrate. At low concentrations both these proteins were converted into thrombin by the two ecarin preparations with comparable rates. However, with prothrombin concentrations above 250 nM r-ecarin apparently had a two times higher turnover than native ecarin, consistent with the observed rapid complete conversion of prothrombin into thrombin by r-ecarin. With r-ecarin a K (m) value of 0.4 μM prethrombin-2 was determined but only a rough estimate could be made of the K (m) for prothrombin of 0.9 μM. In conclusion, r-ecarin was identified as a promising candidate for replacement of native ecarin in assays utilizing conversion of prothrombin to thrombin.