The past, present and future of cell-free protein synthesis

Trends Biotechnol. 2005 Mar;23(3):150-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2005.01.003.


Recent technical advances have revitalized cell-free expression systems to meet the increasing demands for protein synthesis. Cell-free systems offer several advantages over traditional cell-based expression methods, including the easy modification of reaction conditions to favor protein folding, decreased sensitivity to product toxicity and suitability for high-throughput strategies because of reduced reaction volumes and process time. Moreover, improvements in translation efficiency have resulted in yields that exceed a milligram of protein per milliliter of reaction mix. We review the advances on this expanding technology and highlight the growing list of associated applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell-Free System*
  • Directed Molecular Evolution / methods
  • Directed Molecular Evolution / trends
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Protein Folding
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis*


  • Recombinant Proteins