Use of folding modulators to improve heterologous protein production in Escherichia coli
The folding of many proteins including luciferase in vivo requires the assistance of molecular chaperone proteins. To understand how a chaperone targets luciferase, we took three luciferases that give different bioluminescence with the same luciferin substrate and with differences in homology. The three luciferase genes, firefly luciferase (FF-Luc) (from Pyrocoelia miyako), and red (RE-Luc) and green (GR-Luc) bioluminescence-emitting luciferases (from Phrixothrix railroad-worms), were expressed in Escherichia coli to produce fusion proteins with predicted molecular masses. Subsequently, we observed that DnaK and GroEL were co-purified along with recombinant luciferase. Although the amount of co-purified DnaK was almost the same compared to FF-Luc, GroEL was 25 and 32 times higher in GR-Luc and RE-Luc respectively. Furthermore, co-expression of GroEL/GroES along with luciferase substantially refolded RE-Luc and GR-Luc compared to FF-Luc.