Confronting high-throughput protein refolding using high pressure and solution screens
Over-expression of heterologous proteins in Escherichia coli is commonly hindered by the formation of inclusion bodies. Nevertheless, refolding of proteins in vitro has become an essential requirement in the development of structural genomics (proteomics) and as a means of recovering functional proteins from inclusion bodies. Many distinct methods for protein refolding are now in use. However, regardless of method used, developing a reliable protein refolding protocol still requires significant optimization through trial and error. Many proteins fall into the category of ‘‘Challenging’’ or ‘‘Difficult to Express’’ and are problematic to refold using traditional chaotrope-based refolding techniques. This review discusses new methods for improving protein refolding, such as implementing high hydrostatic pressure, using small molecule additives to enhance traditional protein refolding strategies, as well as developing practical methods for performing refolding studies to maximize their reliability and utility. The strategies examined here focus on high-throughput, automated refolding screens, which can be applied to structural genomic projects.