The Cry4AaCter tag is a pull-down tag which promotes the formation of inclusion bodies (IBs) that can be resolubilized in an alkaline buffer. Here, we used the Cry4AaCter tag to create a platform for the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in Escherichia coli featuring a uniform resolubilization process independent of the peptide fused to the pull-down tag. The Cry4AaCter tag conserves the bioactivity of fusion proteins and thus allows the purification of simple AMPs and more complex AMPs stabilized by disulfide bonds. We developed a downstream process (DSP) for the purification of IBs containing the mutated Galleria mellonella insect metalloprotease inhibitor IMPI(I38V), which has a globular structure stabilized by five disulfide bonds. IMPI(I38V) is a potent inhibitor of the M4 metalloproteases used as virulence factors by several human pathogens. We used a single crossflow filtration for the washing and resolubilization of the Cry4AaCter-induced IBs and obtained bioactive IMPI(I38V) after tag removal. We achieved a 68-fold higher protein yield using our IB system compared to an alternative DSP approach in which a GST-fusion strategy was used to produce soluble IMPI(I38V). The Cry4AaCter-based process was transferable to gloverin (another G. mellonella AMP) and the visible marker green fluorescent protein, which accumulated in fluorescent IBs, confirming it is a broadly applicable strategy for the recovery of functional proteins.
Hoffmann, D., Eckhardt, D., Gerlach, D., Vilcinskas, A., & Czermak, P. (2019). Downstream processing of Cry4AaCter-induced inclusion bodies containing insect-derived antimicrobial peptides produced in Escherichia coli. Protein Expression and Purification, 155, 120–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pep.2018.12.002