Generating recombinant C-terminal prion protein fragments of exact native sequence

Neurochem Int. 2012 Feb;60(3):318-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2011.12.006. Epub 2011 Dec 17.


Transmissibility and distinctive neuropathology are hallmark features of prion diseases differentiating them from other neurodegenerative disorders, with pathogenesis and transmission appearing closely linked to misfolded conformers (PrP(Sc)) of the ubiquitously expressed cellular form of the prion protein (PrP(C)). Given the apparent pathogenic primacy of misfolded PrP, the utilisation of peptides based on the prion protein has formed an integral approach for providing insights into misfolding pathways and pathogenic mechanisms. In parallel with studies employing prion peptides, similar approaches in other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer Disease, have demonstrated that differential processing of parent proteins and quite minor variations in the primary sequence of cognate peptides generated from the same constitutive processing (such as Aβ1-40 versus Aβ1-42 produced from γ-secretase activity) can be associated with very different pathogenic consequences. PrP(C) also undergoes constitutive α- or β-cleavage yielding C1 (residues 112-231 human sequence) or C2 (residues 90-231), respectively, with the full cell biological significance of such processing unresolved; however, it is noteworthy that in prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and murine models, the moderately extended C2 fragment predominates in the brain suggesting that the two cleavage events and the consequent C-terminal fragments may differ in their pathogenic significance. Accordingly, studies characterising biologically relevant peptides like C1 and C2, would be most valid if undertaken using peptides completely free of any inherent non-native sequence that arises as a by-product of commonly employed recombinant production techniques. To achieve this aim and thereby facilitate more representative biophysical and neurotoxicity studies, we adapted the combination of high fidelity Taq TA cloning with a SUMO-Hexa-His tag-type approach, incorporating the SUMO protease step. This technique consistently produced sufficient yields (∼10 mg/L) of high purity peptides (>95%) equating to C1 and C2 of exact native primary sequence in the α-helical conformation suitable for biological and biophysical investigations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Circular Dichroism
  • DNA / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Inclusion Bodies / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peptide Fragments / biosynthesis
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Prions / biosynthesis*
  • Prions / chemistry*
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization


  • Peptide Fragments
  • Prions
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins
  • DNA