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Microb Cell Fact. 2010 Aug 28;9:63. doi: 10.1186/1475-2859-9-63.

Protein solubility and differential proteomic profiling of recombinant Escherichia coli overexpressing double-tagged fusion proteins.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Systems Biology and Tissue Engineering Research Center, National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi 621, Taiwan.



Overexpression of recombinant proteins usually triggers the induction of heat shock proteins that regulate aggregation and solubility of the overexpressed protein. The two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE)-mass spectrometry approach was used to profile the proteome of Escherichia coli overexpressing N-acetyl-D-glucosamine 2-epimerase (GlcNAc 2-epimerase) and N-acetyl-D-neuraminic acid aldolase (Neu5Ac aldolase), both fused to glutathione S-transferase (GST) and polyionic peptide (5D or 5R).


Overexpression of fusion proteins by IPTG induction caused significant differential expression of numerous cellular proteins; most of these proteins were down-regulated, including enzymes connected to the pentose phosphate pathway and the enzyme LuxS that could lead to an inhibition of tRNA synthesis. Interestingly, when plasmid-harboring cells were cultured in LB medium, gluconeogenesis occurred mainly through MaeB, while in the host strain, gluconeogenesis occurred by a different pathway (by Mdh and PckA). Significant up-regulation of the chaperones ClpB, HslU and GroEL and high-level expression of two protective small heat shock proteins (IbpA and IbpB) were found in cells overexpressing GST-GlcNAc 2-epimerase-5D but not in GST-Neu5Ac aldolase-5R-expressing E. coli. Although most of the recombinant protein was present in insoluble aggregates, the soluble fraction of GST-GlcNAc 2-epimerase-5D was higher than that of GST-Neu5Ac aldolase-5R. Also, in cells overexpressing recombinant GST-GlcNAc 2-epimerase-5D, the expression of σ32 was maintained at a higher level following induction.


Differential expression of metabolically functional proteins, especially those in the gluconeogenesis pathway, was found between host and recombinant cells. Also, the expression patterns of chaperones/heat shock proteins differed among the plasmid-harboring bacteria in response to overproduction of recombinant proteins. In conclusion, the solubility of overexpressed recombinant proteins could be enhanced by maintaining the expression of σ32, a bacterial heat shock transcription factor, at higher levels during overproduction.

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