Large-scale recombinant expression and purificatoin of human tyrosinase suitabel for structural studies

X. Lai, M. Soler-Lopez, H.J. Wichers, Bouke Dijkstra

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Human tyrosinase (TYR) is a glycoprotein that initiates the first two reactions in the melanin biosynthesis pathway. Mutations in its encoding gene cause Oculocutaneous Albinism type I (OCA1), the most severe form of albinism, which is a group of autosomal recessive disorders characterized by reduced or absent production of melanin in skin, hair and eyes. Despite extensive structural and characterization studies of its homologues in lower eukaryotic organisms, the catalytic mechanism of human TYR and the molecular basis of OCA1 are largely unknown. In this work, we have carried out a large-scale recombinant expression of TYR that has enabled us to obtain high yields of pure and active protein, required for crystallization trials and screening of skin whitening agents, which is highly demanded in the cosmetic industry. Addition of an N-terminal honeybee melittin signal peptide for secretion of the produced protein into the (protein-free) medium, as well as a cleavable His-tag at the C-terminus, was crucial for increasing the yield of pure protein. We have successfully crystallized two TYR variants, in both glycosylated and deglycosylated forms, showing preliminary X-ray diffraction patterns at 3.5 Å resolution. Hence, we have established an expression and purification protocol suitable for the crystal structure determination of human TYR, which will give unique atomic insight into the nature and conformation of the residues that shape the substrate binding pocket that will ultimately lead to efficient compound design.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0161697
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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