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Biotechnol J. 2011 Jan;6(1):28-37. doi: 10.1002/biot.201000341.

Targeted protein pullout from human tissue samples using competitive elution.

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  • 1Royal Institute of Technology, AlbaNova University Center, Department of Biotechnology, Stockholm, Sweden.


One commonly used strategy to gain information on the proteins in a cell is to isolate the proteins of interest by specific binders, often antibodies. Not only the specificity of the capturing antibodies but also the washing and elution conditions are crucial to avoid false-positive protein identifications. Eluting the target protein from the matrix, while avoiding the release of unrelated background proteins, should both provide more correct information on the target protein and its interaction partners, and minimize the effort to perform downstream analyses through the reduced number of eluted proteins. In this study, a novel approach for selective protein pullout is presented. Monospecific antibodies were used to selectively pullout target proteins from a complex biosample. Subsequently, the target proteins were competitively eluted from the affinity media with the recombinant antigen. To deplete the antigen from the eluted sample, IMAC spin columns were utilized to bind the N-terminal His-tag of the antigens. The competitive elution method was applied both to a model system, and for the extraction of a native human target protein. In the model system the recombinant target protein BBC7 was spiked into a protein extract of human liver, whereas an endogenously expressed target protein, cTAGE5, was extracted from the liver extract directly. SDS-PAGE analysis and mass spectrometry confirmed affinity isolation of expected target proteins. More selective elution was obtained using the competitive procedure as compared to elution at low pH. Competitive elution has thus been shown to offer an effective approach for wide-scale pullout experiments where proteins and their interaction partners are to be studied.

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