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Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Feb;19(2):131-6.

Protein solubility and folding monitored in vivo by structural complementation of a genetic marker protein.

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Department of Physiology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas TX 75235, USA.


Protein misfolding is the basis of a number of human diseases and presents an obstacle to the production of soluble recombinant proteins. We present a general method to assess the solubility and folding of proteins in vivo. The basis of this assay is structural complementation between the alpha- and omega- fragments of beta-galactosidase (beta-gal). Fusions of the alpha-fragment to the C terminus of target proteins with widely varying in vivo folding yield and/or solubility levels, including the Alzheimer's amyloid beta (A beta) peptide and a non-amyloidogenic mutant thereof, reveal an unambiguous correlation between beta-gal activity and the solubility/folding of the target. Thus, structural complementation provides a means of monitoring protein solubility/misfolding in vivo, and should find utility in the screening for compounds that influence the pathological consequences of these processes.

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