Foam fractionation Tags (F-Tags) enabling surfactant-free, activity-preserving recovery of enzymes

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Abstract: Enzymes have become important tools in many industries. However, the full exploitation of their potential is currently limited by a lack of efficient and cost-effective methods for enzyme purification from microbial production. One technology that could solve this problem is foam fractionation. In this study, we show that diverse natural foam-stabilizing proteins fused as F-Tags to β-lactamase, penicillin G acylase, and formate dehydrogenase, respectively, are able to mediate foaming and recovery of the enzymes by foam fractionation. The catalytic activity of all three candidates is largely preserved. Under appropriate fractionation conditions, especially when a wash buffer is used, some F-Tags also allow nearly complete separation of the target enzyme from a contaminating protein. We found that a larger distance between the F-Tag and the target enzyme has a positive effect on the maintenance of catalytic activity. However, we did not identify any particular sequence motifs or physical parameters that influenced performance as an F-tag. The best results were obtained with a short helical F-Tag, which was originally intended to serve only as a linker sequence. The findings of the study suggest that the development of molecular tags that enable the establishment of surfactant-free foam fractionation for enzyme workup is a promising method. Key points: • Foam-stabilizing proteins mediate activity-preserving foam fractionation of enzymes • Performance as an F-Tag is not restricted to particular structural motifs • Separation from untagged protein benefits from low foam stability and foam washings Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]


Original languageEnglish
Article number140
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

External IDs

Scopus 85182599859
ORCID /0000-0002-2912-546X/work/153654330
ORCID /0000-0002-2493-7629/work/153654636
PubMed 38231394



  • Industry, Surface-Active Agents, Chemical Fractionation, Formate Dehydrogenases, Penicillin Amidase