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Curr Protoc Protein Sci. 2010 Aug;Chapter 5:Unit 5.24.1-29. doi: 10.1002/0471140864.ps0524s61.

Strategies to optimize protein expression in E. coli.

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  • 1Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.


Recombinant protein expression in Escherichia coli (E. coli) is simple, fast, inexpensive, and robust, with the expressed protein comprising up to 50 percent of the total cellular protein. However, it also has disadvantages. For example, the rapidity of bacterial protein expression often results in unfolded/misfolded proteins, especially for heterologous proteins that require longer times and/or molecular chaperones to fold correctly. In addition, the highly reductive environment of the bacterial cytosol and the inability of E. coli to perform several eukaryotic post-translational modifications results in the insoluble expression of proteins that require these modifications for folding and activity. Fortunately, multiple, novel reagents and techniques have been developed that allow for the efficient, soluble production of a diverse range of heterologous proteins in E. coli. This overview describes variables at each stage of a protein expression experiment that can influence solubility and offers a summary of strategies used to optimize soluble expression in E. coli.

(c) 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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