Crude extract based cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) has emerged as a powerful technology platform for high-throughput protein production and genetic part characterization. Unfortunately, robust preparation of highly active extracts generally requires specialized and costly equipment and can be labor and time intensive. Moreover, cell lysis procedures can be hard to standardize, leading to different extract performance across laboratories. These challenges limit new entrants to the field and new applications, such as comprehensive genome engineering programs to improve extract performance. To address these challenges, we developed a generalizable and easily accessible high-throughput crude extract preparation method for CFPS based on sonication. To validate our approach, we investigated two Escherichia coli strains: BL21 Star™ (DE3) and a K12 MG1655 variant, achieving similar productivity (defined as CFPS yield in g/L) by varying only a few parameters. In addition, we observed identical productivity of cell extracts generated from culture volumes spanning three orders of magnitude (10a mL culture tubes to 10 L fermentation). We anticipate that our rapid and robust extract preparation method will speed-up screening of genomically engineered strains for CFPS applications, make possible highly active extracts from non-model organisms, and promote a more general use of CFPS in synthetic biology and biotechnology.
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