Mammalian Expression of Isotopically Labeled Proteins for NMR Spectroscopy

  • Mallika SastryEmail author
  • Carole A. Bewley
  • Peter D. Kwong
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 992)


NMR spectroscopic characterization of biologically interesting proteins generally requires the incorporation of 15N/13C and/or 2H stable isotopes. While prokaryotic incorporation systems are regularly used, mammalian ones are not: of the nearly 9,000 NMR macromolecular structures currently deposited in the Protein Data Bank, only a handful (<0.5%) were solved with proteins expressed in mammalian systems. This low number of structures is largely a reflection of the difficulty in producing uniformly labeled, mammalian-expressed proteins. This is unfortunate, as many interesting proteins require mammalian cofactors, chaperons, or post-translational modifications such as N-linked glycosylation, and mammalian cells have the necessary machinery to produce them correctly. Here we describe recent advances in mammalian expression, including an efficient adenoviral vector-based system, for the production of isotopically enriched proteins. This system allows for the expression of mammalian proteins and their complexes, including proteins that require post-translational modifications. We describe how this system can produce isotopically labeled 15N and 13C post-translationally modified proteins, such as the outer domain of HIV-1 gp120, which has 15 sites of N-linked glycosylation. Selective amino-acid labeling is also described. These developments should reduce barriers to the determination of NMR structures with isotopically labeled proteins from mammalian expression systems.


A549 Cell Recombinant Adenovirus Rous Sarcoma Virus Outer Domain Enrich Protein 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Chinese Hamster Ovary cells


Human Embryonic Kidney cells


Baby Hamster Kidney cells


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1


Rous Sarcoma Virus






Inverted terminal repeat


Bovine growth hormone polyadenylation signal


Surface plasmon resonance


Phosphate buffered saline


American Type Culture Collection


Dubelco’s modified eagle media


Dialyzed fetal bovine serum


Coxsackie-and Adenovirus Receptor.



We thank the NMR staff at the New York Structural Biology Consortium for assistance with instrumentation and data acquisition. We also thank the members of the Structural Biology Section and Structural Bioinformatics Section at the Vaccine Research Center for insightful comments and discussions. Support for this work was provided by the Intramural Program of the NIH (NIAID and NIDDK). 900 MHz spectrometers were purchased with funds from NIH, USA, the Keck Foundation, New York State, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mallika Sastry
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carole A. Bewley
    • 2
  • Peter D. Kwong
    • 1
  1. 1.Vaccine Research CenterNational Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Bioorganic ChemistryNational Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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