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Protein Expr Purif. 2001 Feb;21(1):134-40.

Refolding and purification of Bothropstoxin-I, a Lys49-phospholipase A2 homologue, expressed as inclusion bodies in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Chemistry, Protein Chemistry Center, Universidiade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Hydrolysis of phospholipids by Group II phospholipase A2 enzymes involves a nucleophilic attack on the sn-2 ester bond by the His48 residue and stabilization of the reaction intermediate by a Ca2+ ion cofactor bound to the Asp49 residue in the protein active site region. Bothropstoxin-I (BthTX-I) is a PLA(2) variant present in the venom of the snake Bothrops jararacussu which shows a Asp49 to Lys substitution and which lacks hydrolytic activity yet damages artificial membranes by a noncatalytic Ca2+-independent mechanism. In order to better characterize this unusual mechanism of membrane damage, we have established an expression system for BthTX-I in Escherichia coli. The DNA-coding sequence for BthTX-I was subcloned into the vector pET11-d, and the BthTX-I was expressed as inclusion bodies in E. coli BL21(DE3). The native BthTX-I contains seven disulfide bonds, and a straightforward protocol has been developed to refold the recombinant protein at high protein concentration in the presence of surfactants using a size-exclusion chromatography matrix. After refolding, recovery yields of 2.5% (corresponding to 4-5 mg of refolded recombinant BthTX-I per liter of bacterial culture) were routinely obtained. After refolding, identical fluorescent and circular dichroism spectra were obtained for the recombinant BthTX-I compared to those of the native protein. Furthermore, the native and refolded recombinant protein demonstrated identical membrane-damaging properties as evaluated by measuring the release of an entrapped fluorescent marker from liposomes.

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