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High-level expression and characterization of an anti-VEGF165 single-chain variable fragment (scFv) by small ubiquitin-related modifier fusion in Escherichia coli


Antibodies currently constitute the most rapidly growing class of human therapeutics; however, the high-yield production of recombinant antibodies and antibody fragments is a real challenge. High expression of active single-chain antibody fragment (scFv) in Escherichia coli has not been successful, as the protein contains three intramolecular disulfide bonds that are difficult to form correctly in the bacterial intracellular environment. To solve this problem, we fused the scFv gene against VEGF165 with a small ubiquitin-related modifier gene (SUMO) by synthesizing an artificial SUMO–scFv fusion gene that was highly expressed in the BL21(DE3) strain. The optimal expression level of the soluble fusion protein, SUMO–scFv, was up to 28.5% of the total cellular protein. The fusion protein was purified by Ni nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) affinity chromatography and cleaved by a SUMO-specific protease to obtain the native scFv, which was further purified by Ni-NTA affinity chromatography. The result of the high-performance liquid chromatography showed that the purity of the recombinant cleaved scFv was greater than 98%. The primary structure of the purified scFv was confirmed by N-terminal amino acid sequencing and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectroscopy analysis. In vitro activity assay demonstrated that the recombinant scFv could dose-dependently inhibit VEGF165-induced human umbilical vein-derived endothelial cell proliferation. The expression strategy presented in this study allows convenient high yield and easy purification of recombinant scFv with native sequences.

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This work was supported by grants from Scientific and Technological Program of Zhejiang Province (2006C33075; to Prof. Zhihua Lin).

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Correspondence to Zhihua Lin.

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Ye, T., Lin, Z. & Lei, H. High-level expression and characterization of an anti-VEGF165 single-chain variable fragment (scFv) by small ubiquitin-related modifier fusion in Escherichia coli . Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 81, 311–317 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-008-1655-3

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  • Vascular endothelial growth factor
  • scFv
  • Small ubiquitin-related modifier
  • Purification