One-step affinity tag purification of full-length recombinant human AP-1 complexes from bacterial inclusion bodies using a polycistronic expression system

Wei Ming Wang, A. Young Lee, Cheng Ming Chiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


The AP-1 transcription factor is a dimeric protein complex formed primarily between Jun (c-Jun, JunB, JunD) and Fos (c-Fos, FosB, Fra-1, Fra-2) family members. These distinct AP-1 complexes are expressed in many cell types and modulate target gene expression implicated in cell proliferation, differentiation, and stress responses. Although the importance of AP-1 has long been recognized, the biochemical characterization of AP-1 remains limited in part due to the difficulty in purifying full-length, reconstituted dimers with active DNA-binding and transcriptional activity. Using a combination of bacterial coexpression and epitope-tagging methods, we successfully purified all 12 heterodimers (3 Jun × 4 Fos) of full-length human AP-1 complexes as well as c-Jun/c-Jun, JunD/JunD, and c-Jun/JunD dimers from bacterial inclusion bodies using one-step nickel-NTA affinity tag purification following denaturation and renaturation of coexpressed AP-1 subunits. Coexpression of two constitutive components in a dimeric AP-1 complex helps stabilize the proteins when compared with individual protein expression in bacteria. Purified dimeric AP-1 complexes are functional in sequence-specific DNA binding, as illustrated by electrophoretic mobility shift assays and DNase I footprinting, and are also active in transcription with in vitro-reconstituted human papillomavirus (HPV) chromatin containing AP-1-binding sites in the native configuration of HPV nucleosomes. The availability of these recombinant full-length human AP-1 complexes has greatly facilitated mechanistic studies of AP-1-regulated gene transcription in many biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalProtein Expression and Purification
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2008



  • Affinity purification
  • AP-1
  • FLAG tag
  • Hexahistidine tag
  • Inclusion bodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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