Improving the yield of recalcitrant Nanobodies® by simple modifications to the standard protocol

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Nanobodies are single-domain antibody constructs derived from the variable regions of heavy chain only (VHH) camelid IgGs. Their small size and single gene format make them amenable to various molecular biology applications that require a protein affinity-based approach. These features, in addition to their high solubility, allows their periplasmic expression, extraction and purification in E. coli systems with relative ease, using standardized protocols. However, some Nanobodies are recalcitrant to periplasmic expression, extraction and purification within E. coli systems. To improve their expression would require either a change in the expression host, vector or an increased scale of expression, all of which entail an increase in the complexity of their expression, and production cost. However, as shown here, specific changes in the existing standard E. coli culture protocol, aimed at reducing breakdown of selective antibiotic pressure, increasing the initial culture inoculum and improving transport to the periplasmic space, rescued the expression of several such refractory Nanobodies. The periplasmic extraction protocol was also changed to ensure efficient osmolysis, prevent both protein degradation and prevent downstream chelation of Ni2+ ions during IMAC purification. Adoption of this protocol will lead to an improvement of the expression of Nanobodies in general, and specifically, those that are recalcitrant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105906
Number of pages9
JournalProtein Expression and Purification
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021

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Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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