Anti-proliferative activity of recombinant melittin expressed in Escherichia coli toward U937 cells
Melittin, a toxic peptide found in bee venom, has been widely reported to have antimicrobial and anti-proliferative activity in many cell lines. While high-purity natural melittin is rare and expensive, the demand for melittin has increased, making it urgent to find a cheap, suitable method of mass production. In this study, the melittin gene of the Chinese bee (honeybee) was synthesized according to the sequence published in GenBank and cloned into the prokaryotic expression vector pGEX-6P-1. Recombinant melittin was then successfully expressed in Escherichia coli. The activity of affinity-purified recombinant melittin was determined in human leukemic U937 cells. Results show that the recombinant melittin had the same anti-proliferative activity in human leukemic U937 cells in vitro as natural one. This shows the promise of recombinant melittin as a replacement for the natural bee toxins used in drug development and other applications.
Key words: Escherichia coli, melittin, expression, anti-proliferative activity.