Selectable high-yield recombinant protein production in human cells using a GFP/YFP nanobody affinity support

Matthew J. Schellenberg, Robert M. Petrovich, Christine C. Malone, R. Scott Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Recombinant protein expression systems that produce high yields of pure proteins and multi-protein complexes are essential to meet the needs of biologists, biochemists, and structural biologists using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. An ideal expression system for recombinant human proteins is cultured human cells where the correct translation and chaperone machinery are present. However, compared to bacterial expression systems, human cell cultures present several technical challenges to their use as an expression system. We developed a method that utilizes a YFP fusion-tag to generate recombinant proteins using suspension-cultured HEK293F cells. YFP is a dual-function tag that enables direct visualization and fluorescence-based selection of high expressing clones for and rapid purification using a high-stringency, high-affinity anti-GFP/YFP nanobody support. We demonstrate the utility of this system by expressing two large human proteins, TOP2α (340 KDa dimer) and a TOP2β catalytic core (260 KDa dimer). This robustly and reproducibly yields >10 mg/L liter of cell culture using transient expression or 2.5 mg/L using stable expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1092
Number of pages10
JournalProtein Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • FACS
  • GFP-tag
  • HEK293F
  • Topoisomerase 2
  • YFP-tag
  • nanobody
  • recombinant protein expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Selectable high-yield recombinant protein production in human cells using a GFP/YFP nanobody affinity support'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this