PDZ (PSD-95, DiscsLarge, ZO1) domains function in nature as protein binding domains within scaffold and membrane-associated proteins. They comprise ∼90 residues and make specific, high affinity interactions with complementary C-terminal peptide sequences, with other PDZ domains, and with phospholipids. We hypothesized that the specific, strong interactions of PDZ domains with their ligands would make them well suited for use in affinity chromatography. Here we describe a novel affinity chromatography method applicable for the purification of proteins that contain PDZ domain-binding ligands, either naturally or introduced by genetic engineering. We created a series of affinity resins comprised of PDZ domains from the scaffold protein PSD-95, or from neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), coupled to solid supports. We used them to purify heterologously expressed neuronal proteins or protein domains containing endogenous PDZ domain ligands, eluting the proteins with free PDZ domain peptide ligands. We show that Proteins of Interest (POIs) lacking endogenous PDZ domain ligands can be engineered as fusion products containing C-terminal PDZ domain ligand peptides or internal, N- or C-terminal PDZ domains and then can be purified by the same method. Using this method, we recovered recombinant GFP fused to a PDZ-domain ligand in active form as verified by fluorescence yield. Similarly, chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) and β-Galactosidase (LacZ) fused to a C-terminal PDZ domain ligand or an N-terminal PDZ domain were purified in active form as assessed by enzymatic assay. In general, PDZ domains and ligands derived from PSD-95 were superior to those from nNOS for this method. PDZ Domain Affinity Chromatography promises to be a versatile and effective method for purification of a wide variety of natural and recombinant proteins
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