• cell-free protein;
  • dopamine D2 receptor;
  • GPCR;
  • protein expression;
  • protein purification

The human dopamine D2 receptor long isoform (D2L) has significant implications in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. Detailed structural knowledge of this receptor is limited owing to its highly hydrophobic nature, which leads to protein aggregation and host toxicity when expressed in cellular systems. The newly emerging field of cell-free protein expression presents numerous advantages to overcome these challenges. This system utilizes protein synthesis machinery and exogenous DNA to synthesize functional proteins outside of intact cells. This study utilizes two different cell-free systems for the synthesis of human dopamine D2L receptor. These include the Escherichia coli lysate-based system and the wheat-germ lysate-based system. The bacterial cell-free method used pET 100/D-TOPO vector to synthesize hexa-histidine-tagged D2L receptor using a dialysis bag system; the resulting protein was purified using nickel-nitrilotriacetic acid affinity resin. The wheat germ system used pEU–glutathione-S-transferase (GST) vector to synthesize GST-tagged D2L receptor using a bilayer translation method; the resulting protein was purified using a GST affinity resin. The presence and binding capacity of the synthesized D2L receptor was confirmed by immunoblotting and radioligand competition assays, respectively. Additionally, in-gel protein sequencing via Nano LC-MS/MS was used to confirm protein synthesis via the wheat germ system. The results showed both systems to synthesize microgram quantities of the receptor. Improved expression of this highly challenging protein can improve research and understanding of the human dopamine D2L receptor. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:601–608, 2013