Cloning, optimization of periplasmic expression and purification of recombinant granulocyte macrophage-stimulating factor in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3)

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Isfahan Pharmaceutical Research Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: Molgramostim, a nonglycosylated version of recombinant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), can be produced in a high level by Escherichia coli. However, overexpression of GM-CSF in bacterial cells usually leads to formation of inclusion bodies and insoluble protein aggregates which are not biologically active. The aim of the present study was to improve the expression of soluble and biologically active GM-CSF in periplasmic space of E. coli BL21 (DE3). Materials and Methods: The codon-optimized GM-CSF gene was subcloned into pET-22b expression vector, in frame with the pelB secretion signal peptide for periplasmic secretion. Cultivation conditions including as isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) concentration, incubation temperature, and presence of sucrose were optimized to improve periplasmic expression of GM-CSF. The expressed protein was purified using Ni-NTA affinity column. Biological activity of GM-CSF on HL-60 cells was evaluated using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Results: The amount of soluble protein for periplasmic expression was more when compared with one of the cytoplasmic expressions. The optimum condition for periplasmic expression of GM-CSF was expression at 23°C, using 1 mM IPTG as inducer and in the presence of 0.4 M sucrose. The biological activity of purified GM-CSF on HL-60 cell line was assessed by MTT assay, and the specific activity of produced GM-CSF was determined as 1.2 × 104 IU/μg. Conclusion: The present work suggests that periplasmic expression and optimization of cultivation conditions could improve soluble expression of recombinant proteins by E. coli.


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