Protein folding and assembly in a cell-free expression system.

Department of Biochemistry, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2128, USA.
Methods in Enzymology (Impact Factor: 2). 01/1998; 290:1-17. DOI: 10.1016/S0076-6879(98)90003-9
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Erythrocyte precursors produce abundant alpha- and beta-globin proteins, which assemble with each other to form hemoglobin A (HbA), the major blood oxygen carrier. alphaHb-stabilizing protein (AHSP) binds free alpha subunits reversibly to maintain their structure and limit their ability to generate reactive oxygen species. Accordingly, loss of AHSP aggravates the toxicity of excessive free alpha-globin caused by beta-globin gene disruption in mice. Surprisingly, we found that AHSP also has important functions when free alpha-globin is limited. Thus, compound mutants lacking both Ahsp and 1 of 4 alpha-globin genes (genotype Ahsp(-/-)alpha-globin*(alpha/alphaalpha)) exhibited more severe anemia and Hb instability than mice with either mutation alone. In vitro, recombinant AHSP promoted folding of newly translated alpha-globin, enhanced its refolding after denaturation, and facilitated its incorporation into HbA. Moreover, in erythroid precursors, newly formed free alpha-globin was destabilized by loss of AHSP. Therefore, in addition to its previously defined role in detoxification of excess alpha-globin, AHSP also acts as a molecular chaperone to stabilize nascent alpha-globin for HbA assembly. Our findings illustrate what we believe to be a novel adaptive mechanism by which a specialized cell coordinates high-level production of a multisubunit protein and protects against various synthetic imbalances.
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    ABSTRACT: Cell-free protein expression (CFPE) comprised of in vitro transcription and translation is currently manipulated in relatively dilute solutions, in which the macromolecular crowding effects present in living cells are largely ignored. This may not only affect the efficiency of protein synthesis in vitro, but also limit our understanding of the functions and interactions of biomolecules involved in this fundamental biological process. Using cell-free synthesis of Renilla luciferase in wheat germ extract as a model system, we investigated the CFPE under macromolecular crowding environments emulated with three different crowding agents: PEG-8000, Ficoll-70 and Ficoll-400, which vary in chemical properties and molecular size. We found that transcription was substantially enhanced in the macromolecular crowding solutions; up to 4-fold increase in the mRNA production was detected in the presence of 20% (w/v) of Ficoll-70. In contrast, translation was generally inhibited by the addition of each of the three crowding agents. This might be due to PEG-induced protein precipitation and non-specific binding of translation factors to Ficoll molecules. We further explored a two-stage CFPE in which transcription and translation was carried out under high then low macromolecular crowding conditions, respectively. It produced 2.2-fold higher protein yield than the coupled CFPE control. The macromolecular crowding effects on CFPE were subsequently confirmed by cell-free synthesis of an approximately two-fold larger protein, Firefly luciferase, under macromolecular crowding environments. Three macromolecular crowding agents used in this research had opposite effects on transcription and translation. The results of this study should aid researchers in their choice of macromolecular crowding agents and shows that two-stage CFPE is more efficient than coupled CFPE.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(12):e28707. · 3.73 Impact Factor