IBA Lifesciences: INNOVATIVE RESEARCH TOOLS FOR PROTEIN ISOLATION
TEXT: MARILENA STRACKE
IBA Lifesciences has been a provider for the life-science research sector for over 20 years. From day one, the Gottingen-based company has specialised in affinity-tag-based purification of target proteins and has become a true champion in its field.
The Strep-tag® technology was developed in the Max-Planck-Institute to isolate desired proteins in a single step with a gentle purification method. Based on this fascinating technology, IBA Lifesciences was founded in 1996.
The Strep-tag® technology derives from a highly selective natural process: the binding of vitamin H (biotin) and streptavidin (a protein produced by a bacterium). “Proteins are involved in all bodily functions, spanning from visible ones, such as muscle function, to invisible ones that control the internal chemical functions or the immune system,” Dr. Isabel Schuchardt, director product management, IBA Lifesciences, explains. “Insulin, for example, is responsible for the cells’ glucose absorption, and a lack of it causes diabetes. Foreign proteins like the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can be recognised by the body and trigger an immune response. To analyse and harness the functions of these different proteins, researchers need a tool to separate them from the complex mixture of other molecules.”
That is where the Strep-tag® technology comes in. It’s an amino-acid sequence that is fused to a target protein, where it acts like a hook. This hook specifically fits into the biotin binding pocket of a genetically engineered streptavidin, called Strep-Tactin®. The two components have a strong bond which allows all other molecules to be washed away during protein purification. After washing, the bond can be reversed by adding biotin, resulting in the isolation of a highly pure target protein – ready for further analysis such as the characterisation of its structure and function.
Dr. Schuchardt adds: “Compared to other protein purification methods, our technology is easy to use and results in a highly pure target protein. It can also be used in protein analysis, for example, to recognise specific proteins, or to isolate specific cells from an organism.”
Today, universities and companies around the world use the technology to further understand biochemical processes that influence our daily lives or to develop medicines such as vaccines.
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