We have improved our green fluorescent protein (GFP) folding reporter technology [Waldo et al., (1999) Nat. Biotechnol. 17, 691-695] to evolve recalcitrant proteins from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The target protein is inserted into the scaffolding of the GFP, eliminating false-positive artifacts caused by expression of truncated protein variants from internal cryptic ribosome binding sites in the target RNA. In parallel, we have developed a new quantitative fluorescent protein tagging and detection system based on micro-domains of GFP. This split-GFP system, which works both in vivo and in vitro, is amenable to high-throughput assays of protein expression and solubility [Cabantous et al., (2005) Nat. Biotechnol. 23, 102-107]. Together, the GFP folding reporter and split-GFP technologies offer a comprehensive system for manipulating and improving protein folding and solubility.
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