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Biotechniques. 1998 Sep;25(3):426-33.

Limitations for purification of murine interleukin-18 when expressed as a fusion protein containing the FLAG peptide.

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University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA.


As a strategy to purify recombinant murine Interleukin (IL)-18, we cloned the mature coding region of this protein into the pFLAG-1 expression system. The intent was to use the FLAG peptide "tag" as an amino terminal addition to IL-18 so that purification of this fusion protein (FLAG-IL-18) on anti-FLAG antibody affinity columns could be performed. While significant amounts of recombinant IL-18 were present in E. coli lysates, only a small portion of this material could be recovered on immunoaffinity columns conjugated with an anti-FLAG antibody. Surprisingly, the majority of recombinant IL-18 present in E. coli (strain JM83) bacterial lysates did not contain the FLAG peptide and therefore did not bind to immunoaffinity columns conjugated with an anti-FLAG antibody. However, we found that the BL21 strain of E. coli, which has reduced endogenous protease activity, could express the majority of recombinant IL-18 as the fusion protein, FLAG-IL-18. Taken together, these studies show that it is necessary to consider whether protease sites formed at the FLAG-protein junction can be easily cleaved by the bacterial strain used to express the fusion protein.

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