Plant protein expression can be a challenging enterprise in any biochemical or molecular biology research project. Several heterologous systems like bacteria, yeast, insect cells and cell free systems have been used to produce plant proteins for in vitro experiments and structural characterization. However, due to particularities of plant proteins, for example the specific type and abundance of post-translational modifications (e.g. glycosylation), a plant system to express plant proteins is extremely desirable. The use of Nicotiana benthamiana (N. benthamiana) plants for protein expression has proven to be quick and reliable. To illustrate the robustness and rapidity of this system, recent efforts to produce the first protein based drug against the Ebola virus was conducted in N. benthamiana protein expression systems (Choi et al., 2015).
This protocol describes a simple system for the expression and enrichment (affinity purification) of plant apoplastic proteins in N. benthamiana leaves, which was successfully used in the characterization of the Arabidopsis thaliana pectin acetylesterases, PAE8 and PAE9 (de Souza et al., 2014).
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