High yield purification of full-length functional hERG K+ channels produced in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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The hERG potassium channel is essential for repolarization of the cardiac action potential. Due to this vital function, absence of unintended and potentially life-threatening interactions with hERG is required for approval of new drugs. The structure of hERG is therefore one of the most sought-after. To provide purified hERG for structural studies and new hERG biomimetic platforms for detection of undesirable interactions, we have developed a hERG expression platform generating unprecedented amounts of purified and functional hERG channels. Full-length hERG, with or without a C-terminally fused green fluorescent protein (GFP) His 8-tag was produced from a codon-optimized hERG cDNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Both constructs complemented the high potassium requirement of a knock-out Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, indicating correct tetramer assembly in vivo. Functionality was further demonstrated by Astemizole binding to membrane embedded hERG-GFP-His 8 with a stoichiometry corresponding to tetramer assembly. The 156 kDa hERG-GFP protein accumulated to a membrane density of 1.6%. Fluorescence size exclusion chromatography of hERG-GFP-His 8 solubilized in Fos-Choline-12 supplemented with cholesteryl-hemisuccinate and Astemizole resulted in a monodisperse elution profile demonstrating a high quality of the hERG channels. hERG-GFP-His 8 purified by Ni-affinity chromatography maintained the ability to bind Astemizole with the correct stoichiometry indicating that the native, tetrameric structure was preserved. To our knowledge this is the first reported high-yield production and purification of full length, tetrameric and functional hERG. This significant breakthrough will be paramount in obtaining hERG crystal structures, and in establishment of new high-throughput hERG drug safety screening assays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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