Expression, purification, and characterization of the native intracellular domain of human epidermal growth factor receptors 1 and 2 in Escherichia coli

  • Supaphorn Seetaha
  • Siriluk Ratanabanyong
  • Kiattawee ChoowongkomonEmail author
Biotechnologically relevant enzymes and proteins


Human epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) are an important target in drug discovery in terms of both protein–small-molecule interactions and protein–protein interactions. In this work, the isolation of a stable soluble protein of the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR in Escherichia coli expression has been accomplished. This successful study presents the expression and purification conditions to obtain a stable soluble protein of the active tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR (EGFR-TK) and ErbB2 (ErbB2-TK) in a bacterial system, albeit in relatively low yields. The recombinant gene was inserted into a pColdI vector and recombinant protein was expressed at low temperature. Purification of EGFR-TK and ErbB2-TK took place under the same conditions by purified supernatant using a diethylaminoethyl sepharose column followed by anion exchange and size-exclusion chromatography columns. The final yields of purified EGFR-TK and ErbB2-TK were 8.4 and 9.5 mg per liter of culture, respectively. Determination of EGFR-TK and ErbB2-TK was performed via enzyme activity with commercial drugs. The IC50 values of erlotinib and afatinib against EGFR-TK were 13.09 nM and 2.36 nM respectively, while the IC50 values of lapatinib and afatinib against ErbB2-TK were 24.69 nM and 1.36 nM, respectively. These results confirmed that soluble proteins of the active intracellular domain of the HERs family were successfully expressed and purified in a bacterial system. The new protein expression and purification protocol will greatly facilitate the enzymatic inhibition and structural studies of this protein for drug discovery.


Epidermal growth factor receptor EGFR ErbB2 Tyrosine kinase Active enzyme Bacterial expression 



The authors would like to sincerely thank the National Omics Center, National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thailand for LC-MS/MS Technology.

Funding information

This work was supported by the Thailand Research Fund (RSA6080078 and DBG6080007) and the Center for Advanced Studies in Nanotechnology for Chemical, Food and Agricultural Industries, KU Institute for Advanced Studies, Kasetsart University and Development Institute. This research was also supported by Joint Research and by Exploratory Research Center on Life and Living Systems (ExCELLS), Japan (ExCELLS program No. 18-101 to H.W. and No. 19-310 to K.C.).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2019_10116_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1065 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Advanced Studies in Nanotechnology for Chemical, Food and Agricultural Industries, KU Institute for Advanced StudiesKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Bioscience, Faculty of ScienceKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of ScienceKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand

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