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Production of Recombinant Oxytocin Through Sulfitolysis of Inteincontaining Fusion Protein

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An artificial gene consisting of seven copies of an oxytocinoyl-lysine encoding sequence arranged in a tandem was synthesized and inserted downstream of the SspDnaB intein gene in a pTWIN1 plasmid. The corresponding fusion protein Dnab-7oxy contained 16 cysteine residues and formed inclusion bodies when expressed in E. coli. The standard protocol involving solubilization of the fusion protein and its autocatalytic cleavage on a chitin resin was not effective because of a very low yield of the cleavage reaction. Attempts to perform a refolding of the intein part of the fusion protein in solution were also unsuccessful because of a high level of protein aggregation. Sulfitolysis of cysteine residues is known to increase a solubility of proteins and peptides. Therefore we suggested a one-step approach that combines solubilization of inclusion bodies and sulfitolysis of a hybrid protein. The fusion protein was completely reduced and solubilized in 8M urea at pH 9.0 in the presence of sodium sulfite and sodium tetrathionate. The sulfitized protein was loaded onto a chitin column, an efficient cleavage was induced by a pH shift from 9.0 to 6.5, and seven successively connected oxytocinoyl- lysine units were released. The heptamer was subjected to trypsinolysis yielding sulfitized monomers of oxytocinoyllysine. Oxytocinoyl-lysine was refolded as described previously and treated by carboxypeptidase B to form the oxytocinic acid. The target oxytocin amide was then synthesized via methyl ester intermediate. Using this approach 6 mg of recombinant oxytocin can be obtained from 1 g of biomass.
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Keywords: E. coli expression system; autocatalytic cleavage; fusion protein; intein; oxytocin; oxytocinoyl-lysine; protein aggregation; sulfitolysis; tandem repeated polypeptides

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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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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