Split inteins: Nature's protein ligases

Neel H. Shah, Tom W. Muir

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Split inteins carry out a naturally occurring process known as protein trans-splicing, where two protein fragments bind to form a catalytically competent enzyme, then catalyze their own excision and the ligation of their flanking sequences. In the past thirteen years since their discovery, chemists and biologists have utilized split inteins in exogenous contexts for a number of biotechnological applications centered around the formation of native peptide bonds. While many protein trans-splicing technologies have emerged and flourished in recent years, several factors still limit their wide-spread practical use. Here, we discuss the development, applications, and limitations of split intein-based technologies and propose that further advancement in this field will require a more fundamental understanding of split intein structure and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-861
Number of pages8
JournalIsrael Journal of Chemistry
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Nov 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry


  • peptides
  • protein engineering
  • protein semisynthesis


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