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Methods Enzymol. 2000;328:478-96.

Protein engineering by expressed protein ligation.

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Laboratory of Synthetic Protein Chemistry, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


By allowing the controlled assembly of synthetic peptides and recombinant polypeptides, expressed protein ligation permits unnatural amino acids, biochemical probes, and biophysical probes to be specifically incorporated into semisynthetic proteins. A powerful feature of the method is its modularity; once the reactive recombinant pieces are in hand and the optimal ligation conditions have been developed, it is possible to quickly generate an array of semisynthetic analogs by simply attaching different synthetic peptide cassettes--in most cases the synthetic peptides will be small and easy to make. From a practical perspective, the rate-determining step in the process is usually not the ligation step (it is based on a simple and efficient chemical reaction), but rather the generation of the reactive polypeptide building blocks. In particular, optimizing the yields of recombinant polypeptide building blocks can require some initial effort. However, it should be noted that the initial investment in time required to optimize the production of the recombinant fragment is offset by the ease and speed with which one can produce the material thereafter. In the example described in this chapter, the yield of soluble intein fusion protein was slightly better using the GyrA intein than for the VMA intein, although in both cases significant amounts of fusion protein were present in the cell pellet. Studies are currently underway to identify optimal refolding conditions for GyrA fusion proteins solubilized from inclusion bodies.

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