Historically chloroquine was used to treat the most deadly form of malaria, caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The selective pressure of chloroquine therapy led to the rapid emergence of chloroquine resistant parasites. Resistance has been attributed to the Plasmodium falciparumChloroquine Resistance Transporter (PfCRT), an integral membrane protein of unknown structure. A PfCRT structure would provide new insights into how the protein confers chloroquine resistance and thereby also yield novel opportunities for developing anti-malarial therapies.
Although PfCRT is an attractive target for characterisation and structure determination, very little work has been published on its expression and purification. Here we present a medium throughput protocol, employing Sf9insect cells, for testing the expression, stability and purification yield of rationally designed PfCRT mutant constructs and constructs of a PfCRT orthologue from Neospora caninum (NcCRT). We have identified a conserved cysteine residue in PfCRT that results in elevated protein stability when mutated. Combining this mutation with the insertion of T4-lysozyme into a specific surface loop further augments PfCRT protein yield and thermostability. Screening also identified an NcCRT construct with an elevated purification yield. Furthermore it was possible to purify both PfCRT and NcCRT constructs at milligram-scales, with high purities and with size exclusion chromatography profiles that were consistent with monodispersed, homogeneous protein.
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Wright et al., “Engineering and purification of a thermostable, high-yield, variant of PfCRT, the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter.” Protein Expression and Purification 141 (2018) 7-18