Cell-free protein synthesis enables high yielding synthesis of an active multicopper oxidase

Jian Li, Thomas J. Lawton, Jan S. Kostecki, Alex Nisthal, Jia Fang, Stephen L. Mayo, Amy C. Rosenzweig, Michael C. Jewett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Multicopper oxidases (MCOs) are broadly distributed in all kingdoms of life and perform a variety of important oxidative reactions. These enzymes have potential biotechnological applications; however, the applications are impeded by low expression yields in traditional recombinant hosts, solubility issues, and poor copper cofactor assembly. As an alternative to traditional recombinant protein expression, we show the ability to use cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) to produce complex MCO proteins with high soluble titers. Specifically, we report the production of MCOs in an Escherichia coli-based cell-free transcription-translation system. Total yields as high as 1.2 mg mL-1 were observed after a 20-h batch reaction. More than 95% of the protein was soluble and activity was obtained by simple post-CFPS addition of copper ions in the form of CuSO4. Scale-up reactions were achieved from 15 to 100 μL without a decrease in productivity and solubility. CFPS titers were higher than in vivo expression titers and more soluble, avoiding the formation of inclusion bodies. Our work extends the utility of the cell-free platform to the production of active proteins containing copper cofactors and demonstrates a simple method for producing MCOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-218
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Cell-free protein synthesis
  • Metalloprotein
  • Multicopper oxidase
  • Transcription and translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine


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