Biotechnology and bioengineering

Chemical treatment of Escherichia coli: 3. Selective extraction of a recombinant protein from cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in intact cells.

PMID 9921154


In previous parts of this study we developed procedures for the high-efficiency chemical extraction of soluble and insoluble protein from intact Escherichia coli cells. Although high yields were obtained, extraction of recombinant protein directly from cytoplasmic inclusion bodies led to low product purity due to coextraction of soluble contaminants. In this work, a two-stage procedure for the selective extraction of recombinant protein at high efficiency and high purity is reported. In the first stage, inclusion-body stability is promoted by the addition of 15 mM 2-hydroxyethyldisulfide (2-HEDS), also known as oxidized beta-mercaptoethanol, to the permeabilization buffer (6 M urea + 3 mM ethylenediaminetetraacetate [EDTA]). 2-HEDS is an oxidizing agent believed to promote disulfide bond formation, rendering the inclusion body resistant to solubilization in 6 M urea. Contaminating proteins are separated from the inclusion-body fraction by centrifugation. In the second stage, disulfide bonds are readily eliminated by including reducing agent (20 mM dithiothreitol [DTT]) into the permeabilization buffer. Extraction using this selective two-stage process yielded an 81% (w/w) recovery of the recombinant protein Long-R3-IGF-I from inclusion bodies located in the cytoplasm of intact E. coli, at a purity of 46% (w/w). This was comparable to that achieved by conventional extraction (mechanical disruption followed by centrifugation and solubilization). A pilot-scale procedure was also demonstrated using a stirred reactor and diafiltration. This is the first reported study that achieves both high extraction efficiency and selectivity by the chemical treatment of cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in intact bacterial cells.

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2-Hydroxyethyl disulfide, technical grade