Bifunctional Fusion Proteins of Calmodulin and Protein A as Affinity Ligands in Protein Purification and in the Study of Protein - Protein Interactions

Nathaniel G. Hentz, Sylvia Daunert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


An affinity chromatography system is described that incorporates a genetically designed bifunctional affinity ligand. The utility of the system in protein purification and in the study of protein-protein interactions is demonstrated by using the interaction between protein A and the heat shock protein DnaK as a model system. The bifunctional affinity ligand was developed by genetically fusing calmodulin (CaM) to protein A (ProtA). The dual functionality of protein A-calmodulin (ProtA-CaM) stems from the molecular recognition properties of the two components of the fusion protein. In particular, CaM serves as the anchoring component by virtue of its binding properties toward phenothiazine. Thus, the ProtA-CaM can be immobilized on a solid support containing phenothiazine from the C-terminal domain of the fusion protein. Protein A is at the N-terminal domain of the fusion protein and serves as the affinity site for DnaK. While DnaK binds specifically to the protein A domain of the bifunctional ligand, it is released upon addition of ATP and under very mild conditions (pH 7.0). In addition to obtaining highly purified DnaK, this system is very rugged in terms of its performance. The proteinaceous bifunctional affinity ligand can be easily removed by addition of EGTA, and fresh ProtA-CaM can be easily reloaded onto the column. This allows for a facile regeneration of the affinity column because the phenothiazine-silica support matrix is stable for long periods of time under a variety of conditions. This study also demonstrates that calmodulin fusions can provide a new approach to study protein-protein interactions. Indeed, the ProtA-CaM fusion protein identified DnaK as a cellular component that interacts with protein A from among the thousands of proteins present in Escherichia coli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3939-3944
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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