A general method for facilitating heterodimeric pairing between two proteins: application to expression of alpha and beta T-cell receptor extracellular segments. Academic Article uri icon


  • Generation of soluble T-cell receptor (TCR) molecules by a variety of genetic engineering methods has been hampered by inefficient pairing of alpha and beta subunits in the absence of their respective transmembrane regions and associated CD3 components. To overcome this obstacle, we have added 30-amino acid-long segments to the carboxyl termini of alpha and beta extracellular domains via a cleavable flexible linker. These peptide segments (BASE-p1 for alpha and ACID-p1 for beta) have been previously shown to selectively associate to form a stable heterodimeric coiled coil termed a leucine zipper. Homodimeric structures are not permitted due to electrostatic repulsion among amino acid side chains. Expression of a representative TCR-leucine zipper fusion protein in a baculovirus expression system results in production of alpha beta TCR heterodimer at 0.6-1.4 mg/liter. This yield is 5- to 10-fold greater than that of the TCR expressed in the absence of the synthetic leucine zipper sequence. The structure of the TCR component of the fusion heterodimer was judged to be native when probed with a panel of 17 mAbs specific for alpha and beta constant and variable domains. A mAb specific for the isolated BASE-p1/ACID-p1 coiled coil was also generated and shown to react with the TCR fusion protein. The above technology should be broadly useful in the efficient production and purification of TCRs as well as other heterodimeric proteins.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 9

author list (cited authors)

  • Chang, H. C., Bao, Z., Yao, Y., Tse, A. G., Goyarts, E. C., Madsen, M., ... Nathenson, S. G.

citation count

  • 131

complete list of authors

  • Chang, HC||Bao, Z||Yao, Y||Tse, AG||Goyarts, EC||Madsen, M||Kawasaki, E||Brauer, PP||Sacchettini, JC||Nathenson, SG

publication date

  • November 1994