3 Biotech

, 9:19 | Cite as

High-yield expression in Escherichia coli, biophysical characterization, and biological evaluation of plant toxin gelonin

  • Guo-Bin DingEmail author
  • Gengfeng Wu
  • Binchun Li
  • Peng Yang
  • Zhuoyu LiEmail author
Original Article


Gelonin is a plant toxin that exerts potent cytotoxic activity by inactivation of the 60S ribosomal subunit. The high-level expression of soluble gelonin still remains a great challenge and there was no detailed biophysical analysis of gelonin from Escherichia coli (E. coli) yet. In this study, the soluble and high-yield expression of recombinant gelonin (rGel) was achieved in E. coli BL21 (DE3) for the first time, with a yield of 6.03 mg/L medium. Circular dichroism (CD) analysis indicated that rGel consisted of 21.7% α-helix, 26.3% β-sheet, 18.5% β-turn, and 32.3% random coil, and it could maintain its secondary structure up to 60 °C. The antitumor activity of rGel was evaluated in two colon cancer cell lines—HCT116 and HCT-8, and it was clearly demonstrated that rGel exerted antiproliferative activity against these two cell lines by inhibiting cellular protein synthesis. These findings provide insights for researchers involved in the expression of similar biotoxins, and the biophysical characterizations of gelonin will favor its further therapeutic applications.


Gelonin High-yield expression Biophysical characterization E. coli Biological evaluation 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31500771) and “1331 Project” Key Innovation Team of Shanxi Province (Prof. Zhuoyu Li). The authors would like to thank Dr. Yaoming Liu from Scientific Instrument Center of Shanxi University for his helpful discussion in CD characterizations.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

13205_2018_1559_MOESM1_ESM.docx (307 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 306 KB)


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Copyright information

© King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biotechnology, The Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Molecular Engineering of Ministry of EducationShanxi UniversityTaiyuanChina
  2. 2.Institutes of Biomedical SciencesShanxi UniversityTaiyuanChina
  3. 3.School of Life ScienceShanxi UniversityTaiyuanChina

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