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1.  Multiplexed expression and screening for recombinant protein production in mammalian cells 
BMC Biotechnology  2006;6:49.
A variety of approaches to understanding protein structure and function require production of recombinant protein. Mammalian based expression systems have advantages over bacterial systems for certain classes of protein but can be slower and more laborious. Thus the availability of a simple system for production and rapid screening of constructs or conditions for mammalian expression would be of great benefit. To this end we have coupled an efficient recombinant protein production system based on transient transfection in HEK-293 EBNA1 (HEK-293E) suspension cells with a dot blot method allowing pre-screening of proteins expressed in cells in a high throughput manner.
A nested PCR approach was used to clone 21 extracellular domains of mouse receptors as CD4 fusions within a mammalian GATEWAY expression vector system. Following transient transfection, HEK-293E cells grown in 2 ml cultures in 24-deep well blocks showed similar growth kinetics, viability and recombinant protein expression profiles, to those grown in 50 ml shake flask cultures as judged by western blotting. Following optimisation, fluorescent dot blot analysis of transfection supernatants was shown to be a rapid method for analysing protein expression yielding similar results as western blot analysis. Addition of urea enhanced the binding of glycoproteins to a nitrocellulose membrane. A good correlation was observed between the results of a plate based small scale transient transfection dot blot pre-screen and successful purification of proteins expressed at the 50 ml scale.
The combination of small scale multi-well plate culture and dot blotting described here will allow the multiplex analysis of different mammalian expression experiments enabling a faster identification of high yield expression constructs or conditions prior to large scale protein production. The methods for parallel GATEWAY cloning and expression of multiple constructs in cell culture will also be useful for applications such as the generation of receptor protein microarrays.
PMCID: PMC1769369  PMID: 17187663
2.  A simple vector system to improve performance and utilisation of recombinant antibodies 
BMC Biotechnology  2006;6:46.
Isolation of recombinant antibody fragments from antibody libraries is well established using technologies such as phage display. Phage display vectors are ideal for efficient display of antibody fragments on the surface of bacteriophage particles. However, they are often inefficient for expression of soluble antibody fragments, and sub-cloning of selected antibody populations into dedicated soluble antibody fragment expression vectors can enhance expression.
We have developed a simple vector system for expression, dimerisation and detection of recombinant antibody fragments in the form of single chain Fvs (scFvs). Expression is driven by the T7 RNA polymerase promoter in conjunction with the inducible lysogen strain BL21 (DE3). The system is compatible with a simple auto-induction culture system for scFv production. As an alternative to periplasmic expression, expression directly in the cytoplasm of a mutant strain with a more oxidising cytoplasmic environment (Origami 2™ (DE3)) was investigated and found to be inferior to periplasmic expression in BL21 (DE3) cells. The effect on yield and binding activity of fusing scFvs to the N terminus of maltose binding protein (a solubility enhancing partner), bacterial alkaline phosphatase (a naturally dimeric enzymatic reporter molecule), or the addition of a free C-terminal cysteine was determined. Fusion of scFvs to the N-terminus of maltose binding protein increased scFv yield but binding activity of the scFv was compromised. In contrast, fusion to the N-terminus of bacterial alkaline phosphatase led to an improved performance. Alkaline phosphatase provides a convenient tag allowing direct enzymatic detection of scFv fusions within crude extracts without the need for secondary reagents. Alkaline phosphatase also drives dimerisation of the scFv leading to an improvement in performance compared to monovalent constructs. This is illustrated by ELISA, western blot and immunohistochemistry.
Nine scFv expression vectors have been generated and tested. Three vectors showed utility for expression of functional scFv fragments. One vector, pSANG14-3F, produces scFv-alkaline phosphatase fusion molecules which offers a simple, convenient and sensitive way of determining the reactivity of recombinant antibody fragments in a variety of common assay systems.
PMCID: PMC1712229  PMID: 17156422
3.  Production of soluble mammalian proteins in Escherichia coli: identification of protein features that correlate with successful expression 
BMC Biotechnology  2004;4:32.
In the search for generic expression strategies for mammalian protein families several bacterial expression vectors were examined for their ability to promote high yields of soluble protein. Proteins studied included cell surface receptors (Ephrins and Eph receptors, CD44), kinases (EGFR-cytoplasmic domain, CDK2 and 4), proteases (MMP1, CASP2), signal transduction proteins (GRB2, RAF1, HRAS) and transcription factors (GATA2, Fli1, Trp53, Mdm2, JUN, FOS, MAD, MAX). Over 400 experiments were performed where expression of 30 full-length proteins and protein domains were evaluated with 6 different N-terminal and 8 C-terminal fusion partners. Expression of an additional set of 95 mammalian proteins was also performed to test the conclusions of this study.
Several protein features correlated with soluble protein expression yield including molecular weight and the number of contiguous hydrophobic residues and low complexity regions. There was no relationship between successful expression and protein pI, grand average of hydropathicity (GRAVY), or sub-cellular location. Only small globular cytoplasmic proteins with an average molecular weight of 23 kDa did not require a solubility enhancing tag for high level soluble expression. Thioredoxin (Trx) and maltose binding protein (MBP) were the best N-terminal protein fusions to promote soluble expression, but MBP was most effective as a C-terminal fusion. 63 of 95 mammalian proteins expressed at soluble levels of greater than 1 mg/l as N-terminal H10-MBP fusions and those that failed possessed, on average, a higher molecular weight and greater number of contiguous hydrophobic amino acids and low complexity regions.
By analysis of the protein features identified here, this study will help predict which mammalian proteins and domains can be successfully expressed in E. coli as soluble product and also which are best targeted for a eukaryotic expression system. In some cases proteins may be truncated to minimise molecular weight and the numbers of contiguous hydrophobic amino acids and low complexity regions to aid soluble expression in E. coli.
PMCID: PMC544853  PMID: 15598350

Results 1-3 (3)