• non-natural amino acid;
  • cell-free protein synthesis;
  • click chemistry;
  • E. coli inner membrane vesicles;
  • Methanococcus jannaschii;
  • unnatural amino acid;
  • (3 + 2) cycloaddition reaction


We describe an E. coli-based cell-free system for the production of proteins with a non-natural amino acid (nnAA) incorporated site-specifically (modified protein). The mutant Methanococcus jannaschii tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (mTyrRS) and tRNATyr pair were used as orthogonal elements. The mTyrRS experienced proteolysis and modified protein yields improved with higher synthetase addition (200–300 µg/mL). Product yields were also improved by increasing levels of total protein to 20 mg protein/mL and available vesicle surface area to 0.5 m2/mL. This new E. coli-based cell-free procedure produced up to 400 µg/mL of eCAT109pAz, 660 µg/mL of eDHFR10pAz, and 210 µg/mL of mDHFR31pAz with p-azido-L-phenylalanine (pAz) incorporated site-specifically at the amber nonsense codon. O-methyl-L-tyrosine and p-acetyl-L-phenylalanine were incorporated by similar protocols. The desired specificity for incorporation of the nnAA by the cell-free system was confirmed. Additionally, the modified proteins were enzymatically active and reactive for copper(I)-catalyzed (3 + 2) cycloadditions (click chemistry). Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009;102: 400–416. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.