Generation of Nanobodies against SlyD and development of tools to eliminate this bacterial contaminant from recombinant proteins

Yaozhong Hu, Ema Romão, Didier Vertommen, Cécile Vincke, Francisco Morales-Yánez, Carlos Gutiérrez, Changxiao Liu, Serge Muyldermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The gene for a protein domain, derived from a tumor marker, fused to His tag codons and under control of a T7 promotor was expressed in E. coli strain BL21 (DE3). The recombinant protein was purified from cell lysates through immobilized metal affinity chromatography and size-exclusion chromatography. A contaminating bacterial protein was consistently co-purified, even using stringent washing solutions containing 50 or 100 mM imidazole. Immunization of a dromedary with this contaminated protein preparation, and the subsequent generation and panning of the immune Nanobody library yielded several Nanobodies of which 2/3 were directed against the bacterial contaminant, reflecting the immunodominance of this protein to steer the dromedary immune response. Affinity adsorption of this contaminant using one of our specific Nanobodies followed by mass spectrometry identified the bacterial contaminant as FKBP-type peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase (SlyD) from E. coli. This SlyD protein contains in its C-terminal region 14 histidines in a stretch of 31 amino acids, which explains its co-purification on Ni-NTA resin. This protein is most likely present to varying extents in all recombinant protein preparations after immobilized metal affinity chromatography. Using our SlyD-specific Nb 5 we generated an immune-complex that could be removed either by immunocapturing or by size exclusion chromatography. Both methods allow us to prepare a recombinant protein sample where the SlyD contaminant was quantitatively eliminated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-76
Number of pages13
JournalProtein Expression and Purification
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • BL21 E.coli expression
  • IMAC
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Nanobody
  • Recombinant protein
  • SEC
  • SlyD


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