Taking down the FLAG! How insect cell expression challenges an established tag-system.
ABSTRACT: In 1988 the preceding journal of Nature Biotechnology, Bio/Technology, reported a work by Hopp and co-workers about a new tag system for the identification and purification of recombinant proteins: the FLAG-tag. Beside the extensively used hexa-his tag system the FLAG-tag has gained broad popularity due to its small size, its high solubility, the presence of an internal Enterokinase cleavage site, and the commercial availability of high-affinity anti-FLAG antibodies. Surprisingly, considering the heavy use of FLAG in numerous laboratories world-wide, we identified in insect cells a post-translational modification (PTM) that abolishes the FLAG-anti-FLAG interaction rendering this tag system ineffectual for secreted proteins. The present publication shows that the tyrosine that is part of the crucial FLAG epitope DYK is highly susceptible to sulfation, a PTM catalysed by the enzyme family of Tyrosylprotein-Sulfo-transferases (TPSTs). We showed that this modification can result in less than 20% of secreted FLAG-tagged protein being accessible for purification questioning the universal applicability of this established tag system.
Project description:In order to obtain glycosylated human interferon-gamma (hIFNγ) and its highly prone to aggregation mutant K88Q, a secretory expression in insect cells was employed. To facilitate recombinant proteins purification, detection, and stability the baculovirus expression vectors were constructed to bear N-terminal His6-FLAG tag. Although the obtained proteins were glycosylated, we found that their biological activity was 100 times lower than expected. Our attempts to recover the biological properties of both proteins by tag removal failed due to enterokinase resistance of the tag. Surprisingly, the tag was easily cleaved when the proteins were expressed in E. coli cells and the tag-free proteins showed fully restored activity. To shed light on this phenomenon we performed molecular dynamics simulations. The latter showed that the tags interact with the receptor binding domains and the flexible C-termini of the fusion proteins thus suppressing their complex formation with the hIFNγ receptor. We hypothesize that in the case of glycosylated proteins the tag/C-terminal interaction positions the FLAG peptide in close proximity to the glycans thus sterically impeding the enterokinase access to its recognition site.
Project description:Tyrosylprotein sulfotransferases (TPSTs) are enzymes that catalyze post-translational tyrosine sulfation of proteins. In humans, there are only two TPST isoforms, designated TPST1 and TPST2. In a previous study, we reported the crystal structure of TPST2, which revealed the catalytic mechanism of the tyrosine sulfation reaction. However, detailed molecular mechanisms underlying how TPSTs catalyse a variety of substrate proteins with different efficiencies and how TPSTs catalyze the sulfation of multiple tyrosine residues in a substrate protein remain unresolved. Here, we report two crystal structures of the human TPST1 complexed with two substrate peptides that are catalysed by human TPST1 with significantly different efficiencies. The distinct binding modes found in the two complexes provide insight into the sulfation mechanism for these substrates. The present study provides valuable information describing the molecular mechanism of post-translational protein modifications catalysed by TPSTs.
Project description:Affinity tag systems are an essential tool in biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology. Although several different tag systems have been developed, the epitope tag system, composed of a polypeptide "tag" and an anti-tag antibody, is especially useful for protein purification. However, almost all tag sequences, such as the FLAG tag, are added to the N- or C-termini of target proteins, as tags inserted in loops tend to disrupt the functional structure of multi-pass transmembrane proteins. In this study, we developed a novel "RIEDL tag system," which is composed of a peptide with only five amino acids (RIEDL) and an anti-RIEDL monoclonal antibody (mAb), LpMab-7. To investigate whether the RIEDL tag system is applicable for protein purification, we conducted the purification of two kinds of RIEDL-tagged proteins using affinity column chromatography: whale podoplanin (wPDPN) with an N-terminal RIEDL tag (RIEDL-wPDPN) and human CD20 with an internal RIEDL tag insertion (CD20-169RIEDL170). Using an LpMab-7-Sepharose column, RIEDL-wPDPN and CD20-169RIEDL170 were efficiently purified in one-step purification procedures, and were strongly detected by LpMab-7 using Western blot and flow cytometry. These results show that the RIEDL tag system can be useful for the detection and one-step purification of membrane proteins when inserted at either the N-terminus or inserted in an internal loop structure of multi-pass transmembrane proteins.
Project description:Most of the reported mitochondria-targeting molecules are lipophilic and cationic, and thus they may become cytotoxic with accumulation. Here we show enzymatic cleavage of branched peptides that carry negative charges for targeting mitochondria. Conjugating a well-established protein tag (i.e., FLAG-tag) to self-assembling motifs affords the precursors that form micelles. Enzymatic cleavage of the hydrophilic FLAG motif (DDDDK) by enterokinase (ENTK) turns the micelles to nanofibers. After being taken up by cells, the micelles, upon the action of intracellular ENTK, turn into nanofibers to locate mainly at mitochondria. The micelles of the precursors are able to deliver cargos (either small molecules or proteins) into cells, largely to mitochondria and within 2 h. Preventing ENTK proteolysis diminishes mitochondria targeting. As the first report of using enzymatic self-assembly for targeting mitochondria and delivery cargos to mitochondria, this work illustrates a fundamentally new way to target subcellular organelles for biomedicine.
Project description:Protein tyrosine O-sulfation, a widespread post-translational modification, is mediated by two Golgi enzymes, tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase-1 and -2. These enzymes catalyze the transfer of sulfate from the universal sulfate donor 3'-phosphoadenosine-5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS) to the hydroxyl group of tyrosine residues to form tyrosine O-sulfate ester and PAP. More than 60 proteins have been identified to be tyrosine sulfated including several G protein-coupled receptors, such as CC-chemokine receptor 8 (CCR8) that is implicated in allergic inflammation, asthma, and atherogenesis. However, the kinetic properties of purified tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase (TPST)-1 and -2 have not been previously reported. Moreover, currently there is no available quantitative TPST assay that can directly monitor individual sulfation of a series of tyrosine residues, which is present in most known substrates. We chose an MS-approach to address this limitation. In this study, a liquid chromatography electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS)-based TPST assay was developed to determine the kinetic parameters of individual TPSTs and a mixture of both isozymes using CCR8 peptides as substrates that have three tyrosine residues in series. Our method can differentiate between mono- and disulfated products, and our results show that the K(m,app) for the monosulfated substrate was 5-fold less than the nonsulfated substrate. The development of this method is the initial step in the investigation of kinetic parameters of the sequential tyrosine sulfation of chemokine receptors by TPSTs and in determining its catalytic mechanism.
Project description:To investigate the role(s) of protein-tyrosine sulfation in the retina and to determine the differential role(s) of tyrosylprotein sulfotransferases (TPST) 1 and 2 in vision, retinal function and structure were examined in mice lacking TPST-1 or TPST-2. Despite the normal histologic retinal appearance in both Tpst1(-/-) and Tpst2(-/-) mice, retinal function was compromised during early development. However, Tpst1(-/-) retinas became electrophysiologically normal by postnatal day 90 while Tpst2(-/-) mice did not functionally normalize with age. Ultrastructurally, the absence of TPST-1 or TPST-2 caused minor reductions in neuronal plexus. These results demonstrate the functional importance of protein-tyrosine sulfation for proper development of the retina and suggest that the different phenotypes resulting from elimination of either TPST-1 or -2 may reflect differential expression patterns or levels of the enzymes. Furthermore, single knock-out mice of either TPST-1 or -2 did not phenocopy mice with double-knockout of both TPSTs, suggesting that the functions of the TPSTs are at least partially redundant, which points to the functional importance of these enzymes in the retina.
Project description:Tyrosine sulfation is a posttranslational modification common in peptides and proteins synthesized by the secretory pathway in most eukaryotes. In plants, this modification is critical for the biological activities of a subset of peptide hormones such as PSK and PSY1. In animals, tyrosine sulfation is catalyzed by Golgi-localized type II transmembrane proteins called tyrosylprotein sulfotransferases (TPSTs). However, no orthologs of animal TPST genes have been found in plants, suggesting that plants have evolved plant-specific TPSTs structurally distinct from their animal counterparts. To investigate the mechanisms of tyrosine sulfation in plants, we purified TPST activity from microsomal fractions of Arabidopsis MM2d cells, and identified a 62-kDa protein that specifically interacts with the sulfation motif of PSY1 precursor peptide. This protein is a 500-aa type I transmembrane protein that shows no sequence similarity to animal TPSTs. A recombinant version of this protein expressed in yeast catalyzed tyrosine sulfation of both PSY1 and PSK precursor polypeptide in vitro, indicating that the newly identified protein is indeed an Arabidopsis (At)TPST. AtTPST is expressed throughout the plant body, and the highest levels of expression are in the root apical meristem. A loss-of-function mutant of AtTPST displayed a marked dwarf phenotype accompanied by stunted roots, pale green leaves, reduction in higher order veins, early senescence, and a reduced number of flowers and siliques. Our results indicate that plants and animals independently acquired tyrosine sulfation enzymes through convergent evolution.
Project description:A set of modular broad-host-range expression vectors with various affinity tags (six-His-tag, FLAG-tag, Strep-tag II, T7-tag) was created. The complete nucleotide sequences of the vectors are known, and these small vectors can be mobilized by conjugation. They are useful in the purification of proteins and protein complexes from gram-negative bacterial species. The plasmids were easily customized for Thiocapsa roseopersicina, Rhodobacter capsulatus, and Methylococcus capsulatus by inserting an appropriate promoter. These examples demonstrate the versatility and flexibility of the vectors. The constructs harbor the T7 promoter for easy overproduction of the desired protein in an appropriate Escherichia coli host. The vectors were useful in purifying different proteins from T. roseopersicina. The FLAG-tag-Strep-tag II combination was utilized for isolation of the HynL-HypC2 protein complex involved in hydrogenase maturation. These tools should be useful for protein purification and for studying protein-protein interactions in a range of bacterial species.
Project description:Tyrosine-O-sulfation, a post-translational modification, is catalyzed by two independent tyrosylprotein sulfotransferases (TPSTs). As an initial step towards understanding the role of TPSTs in retinal function, this study was undertaken to determine the extent to which tyrosine-O-sulfation of proteins is utilized in the retina. A previously characterized anti-sulfotyrosine antibody was used to determine the presence and localization of tyrosine-O-sulfated proteins (TOSPs) in the retina. Using Western blot, RT-PCR and immunohistochemical analyses, we detected TOSPs in the retinas from diverse species, including frog, fish, mouse and human. Some of the variability in the observed sizes of retinal TOSPs in the mouse, at least, may result from differential patterns of glycosylation; however, there seem to be species-specific sulfated retinal proteins as well. TOSPs were detected in most of the retinal layers as well as in the retinal pigment epithelium from human and mouse. Several retinal TOSPs were detected in the inter-photoreceptor matrix, which is consistent with the secreted nature of some sulfated proteins. Transcripts for both TPST-1 and TPST-2 were expressed in both the human and mouse retinas. These data show that retinal protein tyrosine-O-sulfation is highly conserved which suggest a functional significance of these proteins to retinal function and structure.
Project description:Protein tyrosine sulfation (PTS), catalyzed by membrane-anchored tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase (TPST), is one of the most common post-translational modifications of secretory and transmembrane proteins. PTS, a key modulator of extracellular protein-protein interactions, accounts for various important biological activities, namely, virus entry, inflammation, coagulation, and sterility. The preparation and characterization of TPST is fundamental for understanding the synthesis of tyrosine-sulfated proteins and for studying PTS in biology. A sulfated protein was prepared using a TPST-coupled protein sulfation system that involves the generation of the active sulfate 3'-phosphoadenosine-5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS) through either PAPS synthetase (PAPSS) or phenol sulfotransferase. The preparation of sulfated proteins was confirmed through radiometric or immunochemical assays. In this study, enzymatically active Drosophila melanogaster TPST (DmTPST) and human TPSTs (hTPST1 and hTPST2) were expressed in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) host cells and purified to homogeneity in high yield. Our results revealed that recombinant DmTPST was particularly useful considering its catalytic efficiency and ease of preparation in large quantities. This study provides tools for high-efficiency, one-step synthesis of sulfated proteins and peptides that are useful for further deciphering the mechanisms, functions, and future applications of PTS.