In situ protein folding and activation in bacterial inclusion bodies

Nuria Gonzalez-Montalban, Antonino Natalello, Elena García-Fruitós, Antonio Villaverde, Silvia Maria Doglia

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Recent observations indicate that bacterial inclusion bodies formed in absence of the main chaperone DnaK result largely enriched in functional, properly folded recombinant proteins. Unfortunately, the molecular basis of this intriguing fact, with obvious biotechnological interest, remains unsolved. We have explored here two non-excluding physiological mechanisms that could account for this observation, namely selective removal of inactive poly-peptides from inclusion bodies or in situ functional activation of the embedded proteins. By combining structural and functional analysis, we have not observed any preferential selection of inactive and misfolded protein species by the dissagregating machinery during inclusion body disintegration. Instead, our data strongly support that folding intermediates aggregated as inclusion bodies could complete their natural folding process once deposited in protein clusters, which conduces to significant functional activation. In addition, in situ folding and protein activation in inclusion bodies is negatively regulated by the chaperone DnaK. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-802
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008


  • DnaK
  • Enzymatic activity
  • Inclusion bodies
  • Protein folding


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