An efficient protocol for incorporation of an unnatural amino acid in perdeuterated recombinant proteins using glucose-based media

J Biomol NMR. 2012 Mar;52(3):191-5. doi: 10.1007/s10858-012-9606-9. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


The in vivo incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteins is a well-established technique requiring an orthogonal tRNA/aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase pair specific for the unnatural amino acid that is incorporated at a position encoded by a TAG amber codon. Although this technology provides unique opportunities to engineer protein structures, poor protein yields are usually obtained in deuterated media, hampering its application in the protein NMR field. Here, we describe a novel protocol for incorporating unnatural amino acids into fully deuterated proteins using glucose-based media (which are relevant to the production, for example, of amino acid-specific methyl-labeled proteins used in the study of large molecular weight systems). The method consists of pre-induction of the pEVOL plasmid encoding the tRNA/aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase pair in a rich, H(2)O-based medium prior to exchanging the culture into a D(2)O-based medium. Our protocol results in high level of isotopic incorporation (~95%) and retains the high expression level of the target protein observed in Luria-Bertani medium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry*
  • Glucose / chemistry
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry*


  • Amino Acids
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Glucose