Large-scale overproduction, functional purification and ligand affinities of the His-tagged human histamine H1 receptor

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This report describes an efficient strategy for amplified functional purification of the human H1 receptor after heterologous expression in Sf9 cells. The cDNA encoding a C-terminally histidine-tagged (10xHis) human histamine H1 receptor was used to generate recombinant baculovirus in a Spodoptera frugiperda-derived cell line (IPLB-Sf9). As judged from its ligand affinity profile, functional receptor could be expressed at high levels (30–40 pmol per 106 cells). Rapid proteolysis in the cell culture led to limited fragmentation, without loss of ligand binding, but could be efficiently suppressed by including the protease inhibitor leupeptin during cell culture and all subsequent manipulations. Effective solubilization of functional receptor with optimal recovery and stability required the use of dodecylmaltoside as a detergent in the presence of a high concentration of NaCl and of a suitable inverse agonist. Efficient purification of solubilized receptor could be achieved by affinity chromatography over nickel(II) nitrilotriacetic acid resin. Functional membrane reconstitution of purified H1 receptor was accomplished in mixed soybean lipids (asolectin). The final proteoliposomic H1 receptor preparation has a purity greater than 90% on a protein basis and displays a ligand binding affinity profile very similar to the untagged receptor expressed in COS-7 cells. In conclusion, we are able to produce pharmacologically viable H1 receptor in a stable membrane environment allowing economic large-batch operation. This opens the way to detailed studies of structure–function relationships of this medically and biologically important receptor protein by 3D-crystallography, FT-IR spectroscopy and solid-state NMR spectroscopy.

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