A systematic approach for testing expression of human full-length proteins in cell-free expression systems

Claudia Langlais, Birgit Guilleaume, Nadja Wermke, Tina Scheuermann, Lars Ebert, Joshua LaBaer, Bernhard Korn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The growing field of proteomics and systems biology is resulting in an ever increasing demand for purified recombinant proteins for structural and functional studies. Here, we show a systematic approach to successfully express a full-length protein of interest by using cell-free and cell-based expression systems. Results: In a pre-screen, we evaluated the expression of 960 human full-length open reading frames in Escherichia coli (in vivo and in vitro). After analysing the protein expression rate and solubility, we chose a subset of 87 plasmids yielding no protein product in E. coli in vivo. These targets were subjected to a more detailed analysis comparing a prokaryotic cell-free E. coli system with an eukaryotic wheat germ system. In addition, we determined the expression rate, yield and solubility of those proteins. After sequence optimisation for the E. coli in vitro system and generating linear templates for wheat germ expression, the success rate of cell-free protein expression reached 93%. Conclusion: We have demonstrated that protein expression in cell-free systems is an appropriate technology for the successful expression of soluble full-length proteins. In our study, wheat germ expression using a two compartment system is the method of choice as it shows high solubility and high protein yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
JournalBMC Biotechnology
StatePublished - Oct 3 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology


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