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Membrane proteins are targets of most available pharmaceuticals, but they are difficult to produce recombinantly, like many other aggregation-prone proteins. Spiders can produce silk proteins at huge concentrations by sequestering their aggregation-prone regions in micellar structures, where the very soluble N-terminal domain (NT) forms the shell. We hypothesize that fusion to NT could similarly solubilize non-spidroin proteins, and design a charge-reversed mutant (NT*) that is pH insensitive, stabilized and hypersoluble compared to wild-type NT. NT*-transmembrane protein fusions yield up to eight times more of soluble protein in Escherichia coli than fusions with several conventional tags. NT* enables transmembrane peptide purification to homogeneity without chromatography and manufacture of low-cost synthetic lung surfactant that works in an animal model of respiratory disease. NT* also allows efficient expression and purification of non-transmembrane proteins, which are otherwise refractory to recombinant production, and offers a new tool for reluctant proteins in general.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/ncomms15504

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nat Commun

Publication Date

23/05/2017

Volume

8

Pages

15504 - 15504