Gene optimization mechanisms: a multi-gene study reveals a high success rate of full-length human proteins expressed in Escherichia coli

Protein Sci. 2010 Jul;19(7):1312-26. doi: 10.1002/pro.408.


The genetic code is universal, but recombinant protein expression in heterologous systems is often hampered by divergent codon usage. Here, we demonstrate that reprogramming by standardized multi-parameter gene optimization software and de novo gene synthesis is a suitable general strategy to improve heterologous protein expression. This study compares expression levels of 94 full-length human wt and sequence-optimized genes coding for pharmaceutically important proteins such as kinases and membrane proteins in E. coli. Fluorescence-based quantification revealed increased protein yields for 70% of in vivo expressed optimized genes compared to the wt DNA sequences and also resulted in increased amounts of protein that can be purified. The improvement in transgene expression correlated with higher mRNA levels in our analyzed examples. In all cases tested, expression levels using wt genes in tRNA-supplemented bacterial strains were outperformed by optimized genes expressed in non-supplemented host cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Codon / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Codon
  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins