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Methods Enzymol. 2009;463:259-82. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(09)63017-2.

Refolding solubilized inclusion body proteins.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


The vast majority of protein purification is now done with cloned, recombinant proteins expressed in a suitable host. The predominant host is Escherichia coli. Many, if not most, expressed proteins are found in an insoluble form called an inclusion body (IB). Since the target protein is often relatively pure in a washed IB, the challenge is not so much to purify the target, but rather to solubilize an IB and refold the protein into its native structure, regaining full biological activity. While many of the operations of this process are quite general (expression, cell disruption, IB isolation and washing, and IB solubilization), the precise conditions that give efficient refolding differ for each protein. This chapter describes the main techniques and strategies for achieving successful refolding.

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