Affinity Purification of Proteins in Tag-Free Form: Split Intein-Mediated Ultrarapid Purification (SIRP). Academic Article uri icon


  • Proteins purified using affinity-based chromatography often exploit a recombinant affinity tag. Existing methods for the removal of the extraneous tag, needed for many applications, suffer from poor efficiency and/or high cost. Here we describe a simple, efficient, and potentially low-cost approach-split intein-mediated ultrarapid purification (SIRP)-for both the purification of the desired tagged protein from Escherichia coli lysate and removal of the tag in less than 1 h. The N- and C-fragment of a self-cleaving variant of a naturally split DnaE intein from Nostoc punctiforme are genetically fused to the N-terminus of an affinity tag and a protein of interest (POI), respectively. The N-intein/affinity tag is used to functionalize an affinity resin. The high affinity between the N- and C-fragment of DnaE intein enables the POI to be purified from the lysate via affinity to the resin, and the intein-mediated C-terminal cleavage reaction causes tagless POI to be released into the flow-through. The intein cleavage reaction is strongly inhibited by divalent ions (e.g., Zn2+) under non-reducing conditions and is significantly enhanced by reducing conditions. The POI is cleaved efficiently regardless of the identity of the N-terminal amino acid except in the cases of threonine and proline, and the N-intein-functionalized affinity resin can be regenerated for multiple cycles of use.

published proceedings

  • Methods Mol Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Guan, D., & Chen, Z.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Guan, Dongli||Chen, Zhilei

publication date

  • January 2017