Background: Although disulfide bond formation in proteins is one of the most common types of post-translational modifications, the production of recombinant disulfide-rich proteins remains a challenge. The most popular host for recombinant protein production is Escherichia coli, but disulfide-rich proteins are here often misfolded, degraded, or found in inclusion bodies.
Methodology/principal findings: We optimize an in vitro wheat germ translation system for the expression of an immunological important eukaryotic protein that has to form five disulfide bonds, resistin-like alpha (mFIZZ1). Expression in combination with human quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase (hQSOX1b), the disulfide bond-forming enzyme of the endoplasmic reticulum, results in soluble, intramolecular disulfide bonded, monomeric, and biological active protein. The mFIZZ1 protein clearly suppresses the production of the cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 in mouse splenocytes cultured under Th2 permissive conditions.
Conclusion/significance: The quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase hQSOX1b seems to function as a chaperone and oxidase during the oxidative folding. This example for mFIZZ1 should encourage the design of an appropriate thiol/disulfide oxidoreductase-tuned cell free expression system for other challenging disulfide rich proteins.