Amyloid-like properties of bacterial inclusion bodies

Mar Carrió, Nuria González-Montalbán, Andrea Vera, Antonio Villaverde, Salvador Ventura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

204 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial inclusion bodies are major bottlenecks in protein production, narrowing the spectrum of relevant polypeptides obtained by recombinant DNA. While regarded as amorphous deposits formed by passive and rather unspecific precipitation of unfolded chains, we prove here that they are instead organized aggregates sharing important structural and biological features with amyloids. By using an Escherichia coli β-galactosidase variant, we show that aggregation does not necessarily require unfolded polypeptide chains but rather depends on specific interactions between solvent-exposed hydrophobic stretches in partially structured species. In addition, purified inclusion bodies are efficient and highly selective nucleation seeds, promoting deposition of soluble homologous but not heterologous polypeptides in a dose-dependent manner. Finally, inclusion bodies bind amyloid-diagnostic dyes, which, jointly with Fourier transform infra red spectroscopy data, indicates a high level of organized intermolecular β-sheet structure. The evidences of amyloid-like structure of bacterial inclusion bodies, irrespective of potential applications in bioprocess engineering, prompts the use of bacterial models to explore the molecular determinants of protein aggregation by means of simple biological systems. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1037
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2005


  • Inclusion bodies
  • Protein aggregation
  • Protein folding
  • Protein misfolding
  • Protein production


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