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Trends Biotechnol. 2005 Jun;23(6):316-20.

Making the most of affinity tags.

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Protein Engineering Section, Macromolecular Crystallography Laboratory, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute at Frederick, P.O. Box B, Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA.


Proteins do not naturally lend themselves to high-throughput analysis because of their diverse physiochemical properties. Consequently, affinity tags have become indispensable tools for structural and functional proteomics initiatives. Although originally developed to facilitate the detection and purification of recombinant proteins, in recent years it has become clear that affinity tags can have a positive impact on the yield, solubility and even the folding of their fusion partners. However, no single affinity tag is optimal with respect to all of these parameters; each has its strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, combinatorial tagging might be the only way to harness the full potential of affinity tags in a high-throughput setting.

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