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High-Level Expression and Purification of Human Epidermal Growth Factor with SUMO Fusion in Escherichia coli

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Human epidermal growth factor (hEGF) can stimulate the division of various cell types and has potential clinical applications. However, the high expression of active hEGF in Escherichia coli has not been successful, as the protein contains three intra-molecular disulfide bonds that are difficult to form correctly in the bacterial intracellular environment. To solve this problem, we fused the hEGF gene with a small ubiquitin-related modifier gene (SUMO) by synthesizing an artificial SUMO-hEGF fusion gene that was highly expressed in Origami (DE3) strain. The optimal expression level of the soluble fusion protein, SUMO-hEGF, was up to 38.9% of the total cellular protein. The fusion protein was purified by Ni-NTA affinity chromatography and cleaved by a SUMO-specific protease to obtain the native hEGF, which was further purified by Ni-NTA affinity chromatography. The result of the reverse-phase HPLC showed that the purity of the recombinant cleaved hEGF was greater than 98%. The primary structure of the purified hEGF was confirmed by N-terminal amino acid sequencing and MALDI-TOF mass spectroscopy analysis. Using the method of methylthiazoletetrazolium, the mitogenic activity on Balb/c 3T3 cells of the purified hEGF was comparable to that of commercial hEGF.

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Keywords: Escherichia coli; Human epidermal growth factor; SUMO fusion; protein expression

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Biopharmaceutical Research & Development Center, College of Pharmacy, Jinan University, Guangzhou, 510632, P.R. China.

Publication date: 01 August 2006

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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