A new approach for the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) during cell-free protein synthesis was developed to prolong the synthesis and also to avoid the accumulation of inorganic phosphate. This approach was demonstrated in a batch system derived from Escherichia coli. Contrary to the conventional methods in which exogenous energy sources contain high-energy phosphate bonds, the new system was designed to generate continuously the required high-energy phosphate bonds within the reaction mixture, thereby recycling the phosphate released during protein synthesis. If allowed to accumulate, phosphate inhibits protein synthesis, most likely by reducing the concentration of free magnesium ion. Pediococcus sp. pyruvate oxidase, when introduced in the reaction mixture along with thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), catalyzed the generation of acetyl phosphate from pyruvate and inorganic phosphate. Acetyl kinase, already present with sufficient activity in Escherichia coli S30 extract, then catalyzed the regeneration of ATP. Oxygen is required for the generation of acetyl phosphate and the H2O2 produced as a byproduct is sufficiently degraded by endogenous catalase activity. Through the continuous supply of chemical energy, and also through the prevention of inorganic phosphate accumulation, the duration of protein synthesis is extended up to 2 h. Protein accumulation levels also increase. The synthesis of human lymphotoxin receives greater benefit than than that of chloramphenicol acetyl transferase, because the former is more sensitive to phosphate inhibition. Finally, through repeated addition of pyruvate and amino acids during the reaction period, protein synthesis continued for 6 h in the new system, resulting in a final yield of 0.7 mg/mL. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 66: 180–188, 1999.
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