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Enhanced protein stability through minimally invasive, direct, covalent, and site-specific immobilization



Bioconjugating protein to nonbiological surfaces is an essential component of many promising biotechnologies impacting diverse applications such as medical diagnostics, biocatalysis, biohazard detection, and proteomics. However, to enable the widespread economical use of immobilized-protein technologies, long-term stability, and reusability is essential. To enhance protein stability in harsh conditions, herein we report a minimally invasive and covalent bioconjugation that enables precise control of the immobilization location at potentially any surface-accessible location where the incorporated unnatural amino acid does not impact protein structure and function. Specifically, the PRECISE system is introduced where a uniquely reactive unnatural amino acid was incorporated site-specifically at a prespecified location in GFP using cell-free protein synthesis. The GFP was then directly and covalently attached to superparamagnetic beads by the unnatural amino acid in a single click reaction. The immobilized GFP was probed for retained activity and stability under harsh conditions including freeze-thaw cycling and incubation in urea at elevated temperatures. The immobilized GFP was more stable compared to unattached protein in all cases and for all durations observed. The enhanced stability of the immobilized protein is a promising step towards long-term protein stability for biocatalysis and other immobilized-protein applications. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2013