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J Chromatogr A. 2014 Apr 11;1337:106-15. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2014.02.030. Epub 2014 Feb 19.

Purification of protein complexes of defined subunit stoichiometry using a set of orthogonal, tag-cleaving proteases.

Author information

1
Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, Am Fassberg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address: sfrey@gwdg.de.
2
Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, Am Fassberg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address: goerlich@mpibpc.mpg.de.

Abstract

Tag-free proteins or protein complexes represent certainly the most authentic starting points for functional or structural studies. They can be obtained by conventional multi-step chromatography from native or recombinant tag-free sources. Alternatively, they can be expressed and purified using a cleavable N-terminal affinity tag that is subsequently removed by a site-specific protease. Proteolytic tag-removal can also be performed "on-column". We show here that this not only represents a very efficient workflow, but also drastically improves the purity of the resulting protein preparations. Precondition for effective on-column-cleavage is, however, that the tag-cleaving protease does not bind the stationary phase. We introduce scAtg4 and xlUsp2 as very good and bdSENP1, bdNEDP1 as well as ssNEDP1 as ideal proteases for on-column cleavage at 4°C. Four of these proteases (bdSENP1, bdNEDP1, scAtg4, xlUsp2) as well as TEV protease display orthogonal, i.e. mutually exclusive cleavage specificities. We combined these features into a streamlined method for the production of highly pure protein complexes: Orthogonal affinity tags and protease recognitions modules are fused to individual subunits. Following co-expression or in-vitro complex assembly, consecutive cycles of affinity capture and proteolytic release then select sequentially for the presence of each orthogonally tagged subunit, yielding protein complexes of well-defined subunit stoichiometry.

KEYWORDS:

Affinity tag; Controlled subunit stoichiometry; On-column cleavage; Protein complex; Tag-removing protease

PMID:
24636567
DOI:
10.1016/j.chroma.2014.02.030
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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