Protein Expression and Purification, Vol.115, 118-124, 2015
Expression, purification and characterization of heterotrimeric forms of sTRAIL using a polycistronic expression vector
Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), which is capable of selectively inducing apoptosis of cancer cells, is a potential targeted drug for cancer therapy. The TRAIL protein induces apoptosis only in trimeric form. However, the recombinant soluble TRAIL (sTRAIL) trimer has low stability and a short half-life, which is a major obstacle for its advancement into clinical trials. Moreover, a percentage of engineered sTRAIL proteins are produced as dimers which may be toxic to normal human hepatocytes. In this study, we inserted three copies of the same subunit fragment of sTRAIL with a His tag into a polycistronic expression vector (pST39) to explore whether it would increase the proportion of trimers. We also constructed a heterozygous vector containing three subunit fragments of sTRAIL each with a different tag (His, HA, and Cmyc). Hybrid sTRAIL proteins (P-dTags) mainly as heterologous trimers were obtained by elution with a low concentration of imidazole based on different binding affinities of His with a nickel column. Functional analysis demonstrated that heterotrimeric forms of sTRAIL showed more stable activity compared to the P-3H at 4 degrees C but not at 37 degrees C without alteration in the native killing capacity. In addition, the heterologous trimers showed decreased toxicity to hepatocytes. These results suggest that the polycistronic expression system may be useful for expression of recombinant sTRAIL and improving its potential in cancer therapeutic applications. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.