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Bioprocess Technol. 1991;12:163-81.

Purification of secreted recombinant proteins from Escherichia coli.

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Schering-Plough Research Bloomfield, New Jersey.


Secretion systems engineered for the expression of heterologous protein in E. coli provide several advantages for subsequent isolation of purified product. Proteins released from the periplasmic space, which represent a small fraction (i.e., 4-10%) of total cell protein, can readily be separated from other cellular proteins by centrifugation of the remaining cellular debris or cross-flow ultrafiltration. The starting material derived from secretion systems is generally of higher purity than comparable material produced from strains expressing cytoplasmically for systems exhibiting similar expression levels. The available evidence suggests that recombinant proteins derived from the periplasm are generally, but not always (44-46), soluble in a nonaggregated form. Consequently, simple purification protocols can be effectively employed for producing homogeneous product with a high yield. The majority of the secreted recombinant proteins reviewed in this chapter were purified by simple one- or two-step chromatography procedures. High-resolution techniques such as reversed phase HPLC were found necessary only in cases where the secreted polypeptides were contaminated with proteolytic degradation variants, e.g., hirudin (51) and beta-endorphin (22). The fact that a high level of biological activity has been shown to be characteristic of purified recombinant proteins secreted into the periplasmic space suggests the presence of a native conformation stabilized by the expected disulfide linkages. Intramolecular disulfide bonds most probably form either as the polypeptide is translocated through the cytoplasmic membrane into the periplasm or within the periplasmic compartment, which has a higher oxidation potential than that found in the cytoplasm (57). Studies performed with hGH (31) and muIL-2 (35) provide excellent examples of differences observed in protein folding and disulfide bond formation between heterologous proteins expressed in the cytoplasmic and periplasmic compartments. Thus, hGH and muIL-2 extracted from the cytoplasm of E. coli have been characterized as high molecular weight disulfide-bonded oligomers. It is likely that oligomerization occurs as the polypeptides are released from the reducing environment of the cytoplasm. In contrast, secreted hGH and muIL-2 extracted from the periplasm of E. coli by osmotic shock displayed the properties of a property folded native protein with correct disulfide pairing. In the case of muIL-2 only a small residual fraction (approximately 15%) of the purified secreted protein exhibited incomplete oxidation of cysteine (35). Secretion of heterologous proteins into the periplasm prevents their exposure to the action of proteases located in the cytoplasm of E. coli (58). The smaller polypeptides such as somatostatin (59), IGF-1 (46), and hEGF (54) are known to be particularly susceptible to intracellular degradation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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