Purification of tag-free chlamydia trachomatis scc4 for structural studies using sarkosyl-assisted on-column complex dissociation

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Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society. Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen that causes the most common sexually transmitted bacterial disease in the world. The bacterium has a unique biphasic developmental cycle with a type III secretion system (T3SS) to invade host cells. Scc4 is a class I T3SS chaperone forming a heterodimer complex with Scc1 to chaperone the essential virulence effector, CopN. Scc4 also functions as an RNA polymerase binding protein to regulate σ66-dependent transcription. Aggregation and low solubility of 6X-histidine-tagged Scc4 and the insolubility of 6X-histidine and FLAG-tagged Scc1 expressed in Escherichia coli have hindered the high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structure determination of these proteins and motivated the development of an on-column complex dissociation method to produce tag-free Scc4 and soluble FLAG-tagged Scc1. By utilizing a 6X-histidine-tag on one protein, the coexpressed Scc4-Scc1 complex was captured on nickel-charged immobilized metal affinity chromatography resin, and the nondenaturing detergent, sodium N-lauroylsarcosine (sarkosyl), was used to dissociate and elute the non-6X-histidine-tagged protein. Tag-free Scc4 was produced in a higher yield and had better NMR spectral characteristics compared to 6X-histidine-tagged Scc4, and soluble FLAG-tagged Scc1 was purified for the first time in a high yield. The backbone structure of Scc4 after exposure to sarkosyl was validated using NMR spectroscopy, demonstrating the usefulness of the method to produce proteins for structural and functional studies. The sarkosyl-assisted on-column complex dissociation method is generally applicable to protein complexes with high affinity and is particularly useful when affinity tags alter the protein's biophysical properties or when coexpression is necessary for solubility.

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