Tobacco protein separation by aqueous two-phase extraction

Deepa Balasubramaniam, Carol Wilkinson, Kevin Van Cott, Chenming Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Tobacco has long been considered as a host to produce large quantity of high-valued recombinant proteins. However, dealing with large quantities of biomass is a challenge for downstream processing. Aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) has been widely used in purifying proteins from various sources. It is a protein-friendly process and can be scaled up easily. In this paper, ATPE was studied for its applicability to recombinant protein purification from tobacco with egg white lysozyme as the model protein. Separate experiments with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-salt-tobacco extract and PEG-salt-lysozyme were carried out to determine the partition behavior of tobacco protein and lysozyme, respectively. Two-level fractional factorial designs were used to study the effects of factors such as, PEG molecular mass, PEG concentration, the concentration of phase forming salt, sodium chloride concentration and pH, on protein partitioning. The results showed that, among the studied systems, PEG-sodium sulfate system was most suitable for lysozyme purification. Detailed experiments were conducted by spiking lysozyme into the tobacco extract. The conditions with highest selectivity of lysozyme over native tobacco protein were determined using a response surface design. The purification factor was further improved by decreasing the phase ratio along the tie line corresponding to the phase compositions with the highest selectivity. Under selected conditions the lysozyme yield was predicted to be 87% with a purification factor of 4 and concentration factor of 14. From this study, ATPE was shown to be suitable for initial protein recovery and partial purification from transgenic tobacco.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 7 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aqueous two-phase systems
  • Extraction methods
  • Factorial analysis
  • Lysozyme
  • Proteins
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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