Archive for September, 2011

Big Potential in Using Protozoans for Producing Mammalian Proteins

Recombinant protein expression is critical for functionally studying proteins, preparing antigens, providing tissue culture growth supplement, and producing certain therapeutic compounds. Like many molecular biology labs, we have used several heterologous protein expression systems over the last decade including E. coli, yeasts, insect cells and mammalian cells from various species. It is widely accepted that these systems present increasing functional relevance from bacteria to mammalian cells, with accompanying increase in difficulty and cost. The benefits of using cells from higher species are often reflected in post-translational modifications (PTMs), such as glycosylation, phosphorylation, etc.

There is yet another system that could be easy to handle while maintaining mammalian-like PTMs–parasitic protozoan Leishmania tarentolae. L. tarenolae is a unicellular organism, its host is lizard. Even though it’s a vertebrate parasite, this species poses no risk to humans. Amazingly, L. tarenolae individuals can be grown on agar plates for clonal selection or in simple liquid media like E. coli. Their optimal growth temperature is 27C, and they do not require shaking; thus they are suitable for growth in insect cell incubators or even at room temperature. The most important advantage of this system is that oligosaccharide structures of proteins produced in this organism resemble those of mammalian cells much more closely than even insect cells, i. e. the N-glycosylation profile can be basically identical to a biantennary fully galactosylated Man3GlcNAc2core-a-1,6-fucosylated structure found in mammalian cells.

IFrom our first-hand experience, the handling of this species is extremely convenient. While we heavily promote the baculovirus expression system (BVES) for most of our custom protein production projects (we carried out one NIH project for producing human glycosylated cancer antigen proteins using a modified BVES recently), we now believe that there is a good chance that many of the proteins we have been producing could be produced in the protozoan system with potentially better efficiency.

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Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 Viruses and cells No Comments

About 50 Papers Cited the Use of GFP-Trap Camelid Antibody So Far in 2011

With their ability to quantitatively pulldown GFP-tagged proteins, GFP-Trap (or RFP-Trap for DsRed-derived fluorescent proteins) beads have gained ground in becoming the reagent of choice for immuno-coprecipitation. The complexes isolated from GFP-Trap agarose or magnetic beads can be easily analyzed without interference from light or heavy IgG chains typically present after monoclonal or polyclonal antibody precipitation. Since the market launch of GFP-Trap, in each of the past 3 years, the number of publications citing GFP-Trap more has than doubled and there is no sign of that rate slowing down any time soon.

In 2011 alone, 48 research groups have published their results with data generated through use of GFP-Trap (not including other related products such as GFP-Booster, GFP-MultiTrap). Research topics in these recent publications include identification of domains of the zinc finger protein 638 (ZNF638) that interacts with C/EBPb when promoting adipocyte differentiation [1]; identification of phosphorylation site on Cdc42-associated kinase (Ack) by LC-MS/MS after immunoprecipitation [2]; and analysis of the activities of myosin heavy-chain kinases (MHCKs) in wild-type vs Htt mutant Dictyostelium discoideum, a cellular model for studying the Huntingon disease [3].

The use of GFP-Trap beads is a simple bind-wash-elute procedure that involves just one antibody already immobilized on either agarose or magnetic beads. Camelid antibodies, especially their VHH single domain fragments such as those used in GFP-Trap or RFP-Trap, are very stable (they can be shipped and temporarily stored at room temperature). The consistency of performance is very high; as a matter of fact, this line of products requires the lowest amount of technical support among all of our products. If you are still using tags like FLAG, V5, HA, etc., you should consider trying GFP as both a fluorescence and co-IP tag in your future experiments for obtaining results you previously could not obtain.

New Product of the Week: Non-Integrating iPSC Generation Kits. First of its kind on the market. Click to read more about mRNA-based reprogramming.

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Blog References:
[1] Meruvu, S. et al. “Regulation of Adipocyte Differentiation by the Zinc Finger Protein ZNF638″ JBC 2011
[2] Shen, H. et al. “Constitutive activated Cdc42-associated kinase (Ack) phosphorylation at arrested endocytic clathrin-coated pits of cells that lack dynamin” Molecular Biology of the Cell 2011
[3] Wang, Y. et al. “Dictyostelium huntingtin controls chemotaxis and cytokinesis through the regulation of myosin II phosphorylation” Molecular Biology of the Cell 2011

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