Article abstract

Nature Biotechnology 20, 927 - 932 (2002)
Published online: 19 August 2002 | doi:10.1038/nbt732

Engineering soluble proteins for structural genomics

Jean-Denis Pédelacq1, Emily Piltch3, Elaine C. Liong2, Joel Berendzen2, Chang-Yub Kim1, Beom-Seop Rho1, Min S. Park1, Thomas C. Terwilliger1 & Geoffrey S. Waldo1

Structural genomics has the ambitious goal of delivering three-dimensional structural information on a genome-wide scale. Yet only a small fraction of natural proteins are suitable for structure determination because of bottlenecks such as poor expression, aggregation, and misfolding of proteins, and difficulties in solubilization and crystallization. We propose to overcome these bottlenecks by producing soluble, highly expressed proteins that are derived from and closely related to their natural homologs. Here we demonstrate the utility of this approach by using a green fluorescent protein (GFP) folding reporter assay to evolve an enzymatically active, soluble variant of a hyperthermophilic protein that is normally insoluble when expressed in Escherichia coli, and determining its structure by X-ray crystallography. Analysis of the structure provides insight into the substrate specificity of the enzyme and the improved solubility of the variant.

  1. Bioscience Division, MS-M888, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545.
  2. Biophysics Group, MS-P244, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545.
  3. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627.

Correspondence to: Geoffrey S. Waldo1 e-mail:

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