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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2009 Feb 1;102(2):400-16. doi: 10.1002/bit.22070.

High-level cell-free synthesis yields of proteins containing site-specific non-natural amino acids.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


We describe an E. coli-based cell-free system for the production of proteins with a non-natural amino acid (nnAA) incorporated site-specifically (modified protein). The mutant Methanococcus jannaschii tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (mTyrRS) and tRNA(Tyr) pair were used as orthogonal elements. The mTyrRS experienced proteolysis and modified protein yields improved with higher synthetase addition (200-300 microg/mL). Product yields were also improved by increasing levels of total protein to 20 mg protein/mL and available vesicle surface area to 0.5 m(2)/mL. This new E. coli-based cell-free procedure produced up to 400 microg/mL of eCAT109pAz, 660 microg/mL of eDHFR10pAz, and 210 microg/mL of mDHFR31pAz with p-azido-L-phenylalanine (pAz) incorporated site-specifically at the amber nonsense codon. O-methyl-L-tyrosine and p-acetyl-L-phenylalanine were incorporated by similar protocols. The desired specificity for incorporation of the nnAA by the cell-free system was confirmed. Additionally, the modified proteins were enzymatically active and reactive for copper(I)-catalyzed (3 + 2) cycloadditions (click chemistry).

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