Cell-free transcription and translation provides an open, controllable environment for production of correctly folded, soluble proteins and allows the rapid generation of proteins from DNA without the need for cloning. Thus it is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to conventional in vivo expression systems, especially when parallel expression of multiple proteins is required. Through novel design and exploitation, powerful cell-free technologies of ribosome display and protein in situ arrays have been developed for in vitro production and isolation of protein-binding molecules from large libraries. These technologies can be combined for rapid detection of protein interactions.

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