Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Improving protein purification yields

The B-phycoerythrin (B-PE) protein is the major light-harvesting pigment of red microalgae Porphyridium cruentum. B-PE finds application mainly in the pharmaceutical sector, and also in the food and cosmetics industries. In spite of its numerous uses, however, its large-scale purification remains problematic.
Improving protein purification yields
B-PE is used in the pharmaceutical industry as a fluorescent probe and reagent. It is also utilized as a natural dye in the food and cosmetics industries due to its high fluorescence efficiency. The protein's purification from algal extracts involves a number of often-crude, highly complex steps, many of which are non-scaleable and result in unsatisfactory yields.

A new technology from a Spanish research group appears to address the main limitations of current methodologies in order to achieve much higher yields compared to existing approaches. The method is time-and cost-efficient. It involves two basic chromatographic-based steps. Original extraction of the phycobiliproteins is carried out using osmotic shock. Appropriate chromatographic columns are then used for the adsorption and subsequent purification of B-PE. The purification of the final product is then evaluated using gel electrophoresis and spectroscopic methods.

Yields as high as 66% of total B-PE in biomass can be obtained using this method. This constitutes a significant progress over currently obtained yields. The higher yields and less-complex processes involved with this method are expected to reduce associated-costs, which in turn can affect end-product costs mainly in the pharmaceutical industry.
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