In vitro-Constructed Ribosomes Enable Multi-site Incorporation of Noncanonical Amino Acids into Proteins

Yi Liu, Roderick G. Davis, Paul M. Thomas, Neil L. Kelleher, Michael C. Jewett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Efforts to expand the scope of ribosome-mediated polymerization to incorporate noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) into peptides and proteins hold promise for creating new classes of enzymes, therapeutics, and materials. Recently, the integrated synthesis, assembly, and translation (iSAT) system was established to construct functional ribosomes in cell-free systems. However, the iSAT system has not been shown to be compatible with genetic code expansion. Here, to address this gap, we develop an iSAT platform capable of manufacturing pure proteins with site-specifically incorporated ncAAs. We first establish an iSAT platform based on extracts from genomically recoded Escherichia coli lacking release factor 1 (RF-1). This permits complete reassignment of the amber codon translation function. Next, we optimize orthogonal translation system components to demonstrate the benefits of genomic RF-1 deletion on incorporation of ncAAs into proteins. Using our optimized platform, we demonstrate high-level, multi-site incorporation of p-acetyl-phenylalanine (pAcF) and p-azido-phenylalanine into superfolder green fluorescent protein (sfGFP). Mass spectrometry analysis confirms the high accuracy of incorporation for pAcF at one, two, and five amber sites in sfGFP. The iSAT system updated for ncAA incorporation sets the stage for investigating ribosomal mutations to better understand the fundamental basis of protein synthesis, manufacturing proteins with new properties, and engineering ribosomes for novel polymerization chemistries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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