A Strategy for Synthesis of Pathogenic Human Immunoglobulin Free Light Chains in E. coli

Paola Rognoni, Francesca Lavatelli, Simona Casarini, Giovanni Palladini, Laura Verga, Paolo Pedrazzoli, Giovanna Valentini, Giampaolo Merlini, Vittorio Perfetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monoclonal immunoglobulin light chains are normally synthesized in excess compared to the heavy chain partners and can be detected in serum and urine ("free" LC). Occasionally free LC are per se cause of organ toxicity, as in free LC-related disorders. In AL amyloidosis, the most common of these conditions, free LC with peculiar biophysical properties related to their primary structure damage target organs and organize in amyloid fibrils. Unlimited availability of well-characterized free LC is instrumental to investigate the toxic effect of these proteins and to study their interactions with targets. We present a straightforward strategy to obtain recombinant monoclonal free LC by using a bacterial system. These proteins, expressed as inclusion bodies, were subjected to solubilization and refolding procedures to recover them in native form. To minimize differences from the circulating natural LC, full-length recombinant LC were expressed, i.e. complete of variable and constant regions, with the original amino acid sequence along the entire protein, and with no purification tags. The strategy was exploited to generate free LC from three AL amyloidosis patients. After purification, recombinant proteins were biochemically characterized and compared to the natural Bence Jones protein isolated from one of the patients. Results showed that the recombinant free LC were properly folded and formed homodimers in solution, similar to the natural Bence Jones protein used for comparison. Furthermore, as proof of pathogenicity, recombinant proteins formed amyloid fibrils in vitro. We believe that the present strategy represents a valuable tool to speed research in free LC-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere76022
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 27 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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