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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Mar 5;99(5):2654-9.

Proteome-scale purification of human proteins from bacteria.

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  • 1Institute of Proteomics, Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The completion of the human genome project and the development of high-throughput approaches herald a dramatic acceleration in the pace of biological research. One of the most compelling next steps will be learning the functional roles of all proteins. Achievement of this goal depends in part on the rapid expression and isolation of proteins at large scale. We exploited recombinational cloning to facilitate the development of methods for the high-throughput purification of human proteins. cDNAs were introduced into a master vector from which they could be rapidly transferred into a variety of protein expression vectors for further analysis. A test set of 32 sequence-verified human cDNAs of various sizes and activities was moved into four different expression vectors encoding different affinity-purification tags. By means of an automatable 2-hr protein purification procedure, all 128 proteins were purified and subsequently characterized for yield, purity, and steps at which losses occurred. Under denaturing conditions when the His6 tag was used, 84% of samples were purified. Under nondenaturing conditions, both the glutathione S-transferase and maltose-binding protein tags were successful in 81% of samples. The developed methods were applied to a larger set of 336 randomly selected cDNAs. Sixty percent of these proteins were successfully purified under denaturing conditions and 82% of these under nondenaturing conditions. A relational database, FLEXProt, was built to compare properties of proteins that were successfully purified and proteins that were not. We observed that some domains in the Pfam database were found almost exclusively in proteins that were successfully purified and thus may have predictive character.

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