A number of recently developed and approved therapeutic agents based on highly specific and potent antibodies have shown the potential of antibody therapy. As the next step, antibody-based therapeutics will be bioengineered in a way that they not only bind pathogenic targets but also address other issues, including drug targeting and delivery. For antibodies that are expected to act within brain tissue, like those that are directed against the pathogenic prion protein isoform, one of the major obstacles is the blood-brain barrier which prevents efficient transfer of the antibody, even of the engineered single-chain variants. We recently demonstrated that a specific prion-specific antibody construct which was injected into the murine tail vein can be efficiently transported into brain tissue. The novelty of the work was in that the cell penetrating peptide was used as a linker connecting both specificity-determining domains of the antibody peptide, thus eliminating the need for the standard flexible linker, composed of an arrangement of three consecutive (Gly4Ser) repeats. This paves the road toward improved bioengineered antibody variants that target brain antigens.
prion protein; single chain antibody fragment (scFv); blood-brain barrier; cell-penetrating peptides; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)
Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) is a probiotic yeast related to Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) but with distinct genetic, taxonomic and metabolic properties. S. cerevisiae has been used extensively in biotechnological applications. Currently, many strains are available, and multiple genetic tools have been developed, which allow the expression of several exogenous proteins of interest with applications in the fields of medicine, biofuels, the food industry, and scientific research, among others. Although S. boulardii has been widely studied due to its probiotic properties against several gastrointestinal tract disorders, very few studies addressed the use of this yeast as a vector for expression of foreign genes of interest with biotechnological applications. Here we show that, despite the similarity of the two yeasts, not all genetic tools used in S. cerevisiae can be applied in S. boulardii. While transformation of the latter could be obtained using a commercial kit developed for the former, consequent screening of successful transformants had to be optimized. We also show that several genes frequently used in genetic manipulation of S. cerevisiae (e.g., promoters and resistance markers) are present in S. boulardii. Sequencing revealed a high rate of homology (>96%) between the orthologs of the two yeasts. However, we also observed some of them are not eligible to be targeted for transformation of S. boulardii. This work has important applications toward the potential of this probiotic yeast as an expression system for genes of interest.
Saccharomyces boulardii; promoter; expression of foreign sequences; screening; resistance markers
Previous studies have examined different strategies for siRNA delivery with varying degrees of success. These include use of viral vectors, cationic liposomes, and polymers. Several copolymers were designed and synthesized based on blocks of poly(ethylene glycol) PEG, poly(propylene glycol) PPG, and poly(l-lysine). These were designated as P1, P2, and P3. We studied the copolymer self-assembly, siRNA binding, particle size, surface potential, architecture of the complexes, and siRNA delivery. Silencing of GFP using copolymer P3 to deliver GFP-specific siRNA to Neuro-2a cells expressing GFP was almost as effective as using Lipofectamine 2000, with minimal cytotoxicity. Thus, we have provided a new copolymer platform for siRNA delivery that we can continue to modify for improved delivery of siRNA in vitro and eventually in vivo.
RNAi; siRNA delivery; copolymer; poly(ethylene glycol); poly(propylene glycol); poly(L-lysine)
Marine macroalgae is a promising carbon source that contains alginate and mannitol as major carbohydrates. A bioengineered ethanologenic strain of the bacterium Sphingomonas sp. A1 can produce ethanol from alginate, but not mannitol, whereas the yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus NBRC 0259–3 can produce ethanol from mannitol, but not alginate. Thus, one practical approach for converting both alginate and mannitol into ethanol would involve two-step fermentation, in which the ethanologenic bacterium initially converts alginate into ethanol, and then the yeast produces ethanol from mannitol. In this study, we found that, during fermentation from alginate, the ethanologenic bacterium lost viability and secreted toxic byproducts into the medium. These toxic byproducts inhibited bacterial growth and killed bacterial cells and also inhibited growth of S. paradoxus NBRC 0259–3. We discovered that adjusting the pH of the culture supernatant or the culture medium containing the toxic byproducts to 6.0 attenuated the toxicity toward both bacteria and yeast, and also extended the period of viability of the bacterium. Although continuous adjustment of pH to 6.0 failed to improve the ethanol productivity of this ethanologenic bacterium, this pH adjustment worked very well in the two-step fermentation due to the attenuation of toxicity toward S. paradoxus NBRC 0259–3. These findings provide information critical for establishment of a practical system for ethanol production from brown macroalgae.
ethanol; alginate; mannitol; Sphingomonas; Saccharomyces paradoxus
The rapid evolution of new sublineages of H5N1 influenza in Asia poses the greatest challenge in vaccine development for pre-pandemic preparedness. To overcome the antigenic diversity of H5N1 strains, multiple vaccine strains can be designed based on the distribution of neutralizing epitopes in the globular head of H5 hemagglutinin (HA). Recently, we selected two different HAs of H5N1 strains based on the neutralizing epitopes and reactivity with different neutralizing antibodies. The HAs of selected vaccine strains were individually expressed on the baculovirus envelope (bivalent-BacHA) with its native antigenic configuration. Further, oral delivery of live bivalent-BacHA elicited broadly reactive humoral, mucosal and cell-mediated immune responses and showed complete protection against antigenically distinct H5N1 strains in mice. The strategy for the vaccine strain selection, vaccine design and route of administration will provide an idea for development of a widely protective vaccine against highly pathogenic H5N1 for pre-pandemic preparedness.
H5N1; cellular immunity; cross-protection; pre-pandemic; vaccine selection
Consequential to its essential role as a mechanical support and affinity regulator in extracellular matrices, collagen constitutes a highly sought after scaffolding material for regeneration and healing applications. However, substantiated concerns have been raised with regard to quality and safety of animal tissue-extracted collagen, particularly in relation to its immunogenicity, risk of disease transmission and overall quality and consistency. In parallel, contamination with undesirable cellular factors can significantly impair its bioactivity, vis-a-vis its impact on cell recruitment, proliferation and differentiation. High-scale production of recombinant human collagen Type I (rhCOL1) in the tobacco plant provides a source of an homogenic, heterotrimeric, thermally stable “virgin” collagen which self assembles to fine homogenous fibrils displaying intact binding sites and has been applied to form numerous functional scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In addition, rhCOL1 can form liquid crystal structures, yielding a well-organized and mechanically strong membrane, two properties indispensable to extracellular matrix (ECM) mimicry. Overall, the shortcomings of animal- and cadaver-derived collagens arising from their source diversity and recycled nature are fully overcome in the plant setting, constituting a collagen source ideal for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.
bovine; collagen; immunogenicity; rhCOL1; safety; scaffold; tobacco
Declining soil fertility and farm productivity is a major global concern in order to achieve food security for a burgeoning world population. It is reported that improving soil health alone can increase productivity by 10–15% and in combination with efficient plant traits, farm productivity can be increased up to 50–60%. In this article we explore the emerging microbial and bioengineering technologies, which can be employed to achieve the transformational increase in farm productivity and can simultaneously enhance environmental outcomes i.e., low green house gas (GHG) emissions. We argue that metagenomics, meta-transcriptomics and metabolomics have potential to provide fundamental knowledge on plant-microbes interactions necessary for new innovations to increase farm productivity. Further, these approaches provide tools to identify and select novel microbial/gene resources which can be harnessed in transgenic and designer plant technologies for enhanced resource use efficiencies.
transgenic plants; designer plants; microbes; metagenomics; farm productivity
Emergence of different ctxB genotypes within virulent Vibrio cholerae populations accentuates the need to develop a vaccine that has the potential to protect against all cholera toxin genotypes. Oral administration of rCTB—alone and in combination with 2 dominant domestic killed whole cells of V. cholerae (O1 Ogawa El Tor and O1 Inaba El Tor) plus one standard V. cholerae (O1 Ogawa classic ATCC 14035)—has shown satisfactory protection as a potent vaccine candidate against toxigenic V. cholerae.
recombinant CTB; cholera toxin; native vaccine; rabbit; Vibrio cholerae
Whole cell biotransformation systems with enzyme cascading increasingly find application in biocatalysis to complement or replace established chemical synthetic routes for production of, e.g., fine chemicals. Recently, we established an Escherichia coli whole cell biotransformation system for reductive amination by coupling a transaminase and an amino acid dehydrogenase with glucose catabolism for cofactor recycling. Transformation of 2-keto-3-methylvalerate to l-isoleucine by E. coli cells was improved by genetic engineering of glucose metabolism for improved cofactor regeneration. Here, we compare this system with different strategies for cofactor regeneration such as cascading with alcohol dehydrogenases, with alternative production hosts such as Pseudomonas species or Corynebacterium glutamicum, and with improving whole cell biotransformation systems by metabolic engineering of NADPH regeneration.
whole cell biotransformation; E. coli; Corynebacterium glutamicum; Pseudomonas; alcohol dehydrogenase; transaminase; alanine dehydrogenase; cofactor recycling; glucose dehydrogenase; formate dehydrogenase
In pursuit of better influenza vaccines, many strategies are being studied worldwide. An attractive alternative is the generation of a broadly cross-reactive vaccine based on the induction of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) directed against conserved internal antigens of influenza A virus. The feasibility of this approach using recombinant viral vectors has recently been demonstrated in mice and humans by several research groups. However, similar results might also be achieved through immunization with viral proteins expressed in a prokaryotic system formulated with the appropriate adjuvants and delivery systems. This approach would be much simpler and less expensive. Recent results from several laboratories seem to confirm this is as a valid option to be considered.
adjuvants; cellular immunity; cross-presentation; cytotoxic-T-lymphocytes; influenza vaccines; recombinant antigen
Enteric infections account for high morbidity and mortality and are considered to be the fifth leading cause of death at all ages worldwide. Seventy percent of all enteric infections are foodborne. Thus significant efforts have been directed toward the detection, control and prevention of foodborne diseases. Many antimicrobials including antibiotics have been used for their control and prevention. However, probiotics offer a potential alternative intervention strategy owing to their general health beneficial properties and inhibitory effects against foodborne pathogens. Often, antimicrobial probiotic action is non-specific and non-discriminatory or may be ineffective. In such cases, bioengineered probiotics expressing foreign gene products to achieve specific function is highly desirable. In this review we summarize the strategic development of recombinant bioengineered probiotics to control enteric infections, and to examine how scientific advancements in the human microbiome and their immunomodulatory effects help develop such novel and safe bioengineered probiotics.
enteric infections; foodborne diseases; probiotics; bioengineered probiotics; recombinant probiotics; lactic acid bacteria
Pullulanases are endo-acting enzymes capable of hydrolyzing α-1, 6-glycosidic linkages in starch, pullulan, amylopectin, and related oligosaccharides, while amylopullulanases are bifunctional enzymes with an active site capable of cleaving both α-1, 4 and α-1, 6 linkages in starch, amylose and other oligosaccharides, and α-1, 6 linkages in pullulan. The amylopullulanases are classified in GH13 and GH57 family enzymes based on the architecture of catalytic domain and number of conserved sequences. The enzymes with two active sites, one for the hydrolysis of α-1, 4- glycosidic bond and the other for α-1, 6-glycosidic bond, are called α-amylase-pullulanases, while amylopullulanases have only one active site for cleaving both α-1, 4- and α-1, 6-glycosidic bonds. The amylopullulanases produced by bacteria find applications in the starch and baking industries as a catalyst for one step starch liquefaction-saccharification for making various sugar syrups, as antistaling agent in bread and as a detergent additive.
amylopullulanase; amylase-pullulanase; pullulan; starch; thermostability; sugar syrups; site directed mutagenesis
Tools for strain engineering with predictable outcome are of crucial importance for the nascent field of synthetic biology. The success of combining different DNA biological parts is often restricted by poorly understood factors deriving from the complexity of the systems. We have previously identified variants for different regulatory elements of the expression cassette XylS/Pm. When such elements are combined they act in a manner consistent with their individual behavior, as long as they affect different functions, such as transcription and translation. Interestingly, sequence context does not seem to influence the final outcome significantly. Expression of reporter gene bla could be increased up to 75 times at the protein level by combining three variants in one cassette. For other tested reporter genes similar results were obtained, except that the stimulatory effect was quantitatively less. Combination of individually characterized DNA parts thus stands as suitable method to achieve a desired phenotype.
combinatorial engineering; Escherichia coli; heterologous gene expression; XylS/Pm; recombinant protein production; synthetic biology; metabolic engineering
Virus-like particles (VLPs) are composed of one or several recombinant viral surface proteins that spontaneously assemble into particulate structures without the incorporation of virus DNA or RNA. The baculovirus-insect cell system has been used extensively for the production of recombinant virus proteins including VLPs. While the baculovirus-insect cell system directs the transient expression of recombinant proteins in a batch culture, stably transformed insect cells allow constitutive production. In our recent study, a secretory form of Japanese encephalitis (JE) VLPs was successfully produced by Trichoplusia ni BTI-TN-5B1-4 (High Five) cells engineered to coexpress the JE virus (JEV) premembrane (prM) and envelope (E) proteins. A higher yield of E protein was attained with recombinant High Five cells than with the baculovirus-insect cell system. This study demonstrated that recombinant insect cells offer a promising approach to the high-level production of VLPs for use as vaccines and diagnostic antigens.
insect cell; recombinant protein production; virus-like particle; Japanese encephalitis virus; High Five
Phenylpropanoids and phenylpropanoid-derived phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, or stilbenes are secondary plant metabolites which serve as pigments and scent compounds or provide protection against environmental stress. Due to their antioxidant properties they also have been widely recognized for their benefit on human health. Traditionally, such compounds are extracted from their natural plant sources, but this approach is limited by low abundance and environmental, seasonal as well as regional variations in yield. Chemical synthesis is not a true alternative for the large scale production of more complex phenylpropanoid-derived substances since chemical synthesis becomes commercially unfeasible as the structural complexity of these plant natural products increases. In the last years, many biosynthetic pathways for plant natural products have been elucidated through the advancements in DNA sequencing technologies. In combination with new recombinant DNA technologies this technical progress opens the door toward the functional integration of full biosynthetic pathways for the synthesis of phenylpropanoids and phenylpropanoid-derived compounds in microorganisms. We believe that this approach has great potential to provide sufficient quantities of the desired plant natural product from cheap and renewable resources. This commentary highlights recent advances in the microbial production of phenylpropanoid-derived compounds with an emphasis on flavonoids and stilbenes.
phenylpropanoids; flavonoids; anthocyanins; stilbenes; lignans; coumarins; plant natural products; synthetic biology; metabolic engineering; combinatorial biosynthesis
The co-fermentation of glucose and xylose is one of the issues in decreasing the price of biofuel or chemicals produced from lignocellulosic materials. A glucose and xylose co-utilizing Saccharomyces cerevisiae was obtained through rational genetic manipulation. Non-rational evolution in xylose was performed, and the xylose utilization efficiency of the engineered strain was significantly enhanced. The results of transcriptome study suggested that Snf1/Mig1-mediated regulation, a part of glucose sensing and repression network, was altered in the evolved strain and might be related to the enhancement of xylose utilization.
xylose fermentation; ethanol; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; adaptive evolution; glucose repression; Mig1; Snf1
For decades, computer scientists have looked to nature for biologically inspired solutions to computational problems; ranging from robotic control to scheduling optimization. Paradoxically, as we move deeper into the post-genomics era, the reverse is occurring, as biologists and bioinformaticians look to computational techniques, to solve a variety of biological problems. One of the most common biologically inspired techniques are genetic algorithms (GAs), which take the Darwinian concept of natural selection as the driving force behind systems for solving real world problems, including those in the bioinformatics domain. Herein, we provide an overview of genetic algorithms and survey some of the most recent applications of this approach to bioinformatics based problems.
genetic algorithm; optimization; multiple sequence alignment; protein structure prediction
Most essential activities in eukaryotic cells are catalyzed by large multiprotein assemblies containing up to ten or more interlocking subunits. The vast majority of these protein complexes are not easily accessible for high resolution studies aimed at unlocking their mechanisms, due to their low cellular abundance and high heterogeneity. Recombinant overproduction can resolve this bottleneck and baculovirus expression vector systems (BEVS) have emerged as particularly powerful tools for the provision of eukaryotic multiprotein complexes in high quality and quantity. Recently, synthetic biology approaches have begun to make their mark in improving existing BEVS reagents by de novo design of streamlined transfer plasmids and by engineering the baculovirus genome. Here we present OmniBac, comprising new custom designed reagents that further facilitate the integration of heterologous genes into the baculovirus genome for multiprotein expression. Based on comparative genome analysis and data mining, we herein present a blueprint to custom design and engineer the entire baculovirus genome for optimized production properties using a bottom-up synthetic biology approach.
baculovirus; BEVS; multiprotein complexes; MultiBac; OmniBac; comparative genome analysis; recombinant protein production
Biodiesel, as one type of renewable energy, is an ideal substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel and is usually made from triacylglycerides by transesterification with alcohols. Biodiesel production based on microbial fermentation aiming to establish more efficient, less-cost and sustainable biodiesel production strategies is under current investigation by various start-up biotechnology companies and research centers. Genetic engineering plays a key role in the transformation of microbes into the desired cell factories with high efficiency of biodiesel production. Here, we present an overview of principal microorganisms used in the microbial biodiesel production and recent advances in metabolic engineering for the modification required. Overexpression or deletion of the related enzymes for de novo synthesis of biodiesel is highlighted with relevant examples.
genetic engineering; microorganisms; biodiesel; fatty acids; de novo synthesis
Cancer is one of the most important health problems because many cases are difficult to prevent. Cancer still has unknown mechanisms of pathogenesis, and its capacity to produce temporary or permanent damage, besides death, is very high. Although many anticancer therapies are available, finding a cure for cancer continues to be a difficult task. Thus, many efforts have been made to develop more effective treatments, such as immunotherapy based on a new class of tumor-specific products that are produced using recombinant DNA technology. These recombinant products are used with the main objectives of killing the tumor and stimulating immune cells to respond to the cancer cells. The principal recombinant products in anticancer therapy are immunostimulants, vaccines, antibodies, immunotoxins and fusion proteins. This review focuses on the general aspects of these genetically engineered products, their clinical performance, current advances and future prospects for this type of anticancer therapy.
recombinant drugs; immunotherapy; immunostimulants; cancer vaccines; antibodies; immunotoxins; fusion proteins
Taenia solium is a zoonotic parasite that causes cysticercosis. The parasite is a major cause of human disease in impoverished communities where it is transmitted to humans from pigs which act as intermediate hosts. Vaccination of pigs to prevent transmission of T. solium to humans is an approach that has been investigated to control the disease. A recombinant vaccine antigen, TSOL18, has been remarkably successful at reducing infection of pigs with T. solium in several experimental challenge trials. The vaccine has been shown to eliminate transmission of naturally acquired T. solium in a field trial conducted in Africa. We recently reported that the vaccine was also effective in a field trial conducted in Peru. The TSOL18 recombinant antigen for each of these trials has been produced by expression in Escherichia coli. Here we discuss research that has been undertaken on the TSOL18 antigen and related antigens with a focus on improved methods of preparation of recombinant TSOL18 and optimized expression in Escherichia coli.
cysticercosis; parasite; antigen; vaccine; Taenia solium; recombinant; pigs
The generation of formate from CO2 provides a method for sequestration of this greenhouse gas as well as the production of a valuable commodity chemical and stabilized form of hydrogen fuel. Formate dehydrogenases are enzymes with the potential to catalyze this reaction; however they generally favor the reverse process, i.e., formate oxidation. By contrast, the formate dehydrogenase of the acetogen Clostridium carboxidivorans has been found to preferentially catalyze the reduction of CO2. This is in accord with its natural role to introduce CO2 as a carbon source in the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway. The direction of catalysis derives from the enzyme’s low affinity for formate. This enzyme is therefore an excellent candidate for biotechnological applications aimed at producing formic acid and derivative chemicals from CO2.
formate dehydrogenase; formic acid; CO2 reduction; acetogens; Clostridium carboxidivorans; CO2 fixation; hydrogen storage
During the production of recombinant protein products, such as monoclonal antibodies, manufacturers must demonstrate clearance of host cell impurities and contaminants to appropriate levels prior to use in the clinic. These include host cell DNA and RNA, product related contaminants such as aggregates, and importantly host cell proteins (HCPs). Despite the importance of HCP removal, the identity and dynamics of these proteins during cell culture and downstream processing (DSP) are largely unknown. Improvements in technologies such as SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry alongside the gold standard technique of ELISA has allowed semi-quantification of the total HCPs present. However, only recently have techniques been utilized in order to identify those HCPs present and align this with the development of approaches to monitor the dynamics of HCPs during both fermentation and downstream processing. In order to enable knowledge based decisions with regards to improving HCP clearance it is vital to identify potential problematic HCPs on a cell line and product specific basis. Understanding the HCP dynamics will in the future help provide a platform to rationally manipulate and engineer and/or select suitable recombinant CHO cell lines and downstream processing steps to limit problematic HCPs.
host cell protein; Chinese hamster ovary (CHO); mammalian cell culture; downstream processing; protein A chromatography; monoclonal antibody; proteomics
At present, several eukaryotic expression systems including yeast, insect and mammalian cells and plants are used for the production of recombinant proteins. Proteins with potential N-glycosylation sites are efficiently glycosylated when expressed in these systems. However, the ability of the eukaryotic expression systems to glycosylate may be not desirable for some proteins. If target proteins that do not carry N-linked glycans in the native host contain potential N-linked glycosylation sites, they can be aberrantly glycosylated in the eukaryotic expression systems, thus, potentially impairing biological activity. Recently, we have developed a strategy of enzymatic deglycosylation of proteins in vivo by co-introducing bacterial PNGase F via agroinfiltration followed by transient expression in plants.1 Here, we summarize our work on this topic and its potential implications.
N-linked glycosylation; PNGase F; deglycosylation; plant transient expression; recombinant proteins; malaria vaccine candidate Pfs48/45
This invited commentary covers the period 1997–2012 and has seen changes in terminology that progressed from “basic” and “applied” to “translational” research. In the context of Bioengineered, these changes map readily onto the processes of identifying microbial characteristics appropriate for specific applications, isolation of suitable cultures, strain or genome manipulation and exploitation of these or their metabolomes across a range of settings.
biocontrol; probiotic; cancer; medical device; industry-led; research strategy