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1.  Carotenoid β-Ring Hydroxylase and Ketolase from Marine Bacteria—Promiscuous Enzymes for Synthesizing Functional Xanthophylls 
Marine Drugs  2011;9(5):757-771.
Marine bacteria belonging to genera Paracoccus and Brevundimonas of the α-Proteobacteria class can produce C40-type dicyclic carotenoids containing two β-end groups (β rings) that are modified with keto and hydroxyl groups. These bacteria produce astaxanthin, adonixanthin, and their derivatives, which are ketolated by carotenoid β-ring 4(4′)-ketolase (4(4′)-oxygenase; CrtW) and hydroxylated by carotenoid β-ring 3(3′)-hydroxylase (CrtZ). In addition, the genus Brevundimonas possesses a gene for carotenoid β-ring 2(2′)-hydroxylase (CrtG). This review focuses on these carotenoid β-ring-modifying enzymes that are promiscuous for carotenoid substrates, and pathway engineering for the production of xanthophylls (oxygen-containing carotenoids) in Escherichia coli, using these enzyme genes. Such pathway engineering researches are performed towards efficient production not only of commercially important xanthophylls such as astaxanthin, but also of xanthophylls minor in nature (e.g., β-ring(s)-2(2′)-hydroxylated carotenoids).
PMCID: PMC3111180  PMID: 21673887
Paracoccus; Brevundimonas; marine bacteria; ketocarotenoid; functional xanthophyll
2.  Mutational and Functional Analysis of the β-Carotene Ketolase Involved in the Production of Canthaxanthin and Astaxanthin 
Biosynthesis of the commercial carotenoids canthaxanthin and astaxanthin requires β-carotene ketolase. The functional importance of the conserved amino acid residues of this enzyme from Paracoccus sp. strain N81106 (formerly classified as Agrobacterium aurantiacum) was analyzed by alanine-scanning mutagenesis. Mutations in the three highly conserved histidine motifs involved in iron coordination abolished its ability to catalyze the formation of ketocarotenoids. This supports the hypothesis that the CrtW ketolase belongs to the family of iron-dependent integral membrane proteins. Most of the mutations generated at other highly conserved residues resulted in partial activity. All partially active mutants showed a higher amount of adonixanthin accumulation than did the wild type when expressed in Escherichia coli cells harboring the zeaxanthin biosynthetic gene cluster. Some of the partially active mutants also produced a significant amount of echinenone when expressed in cells producing β-carotene. In fact, expression of a mutant carrying D117A resulted in the accumulation of echinenone as the predominant carotenoid. These observations indicate that partial inactivation of the CrtW ketolase can often lead to the production of monoketolated intermediates. In order to improve the conversion rate of astaxanthin catalyzed by the CrtW ketolase, a color screening system was developed. Three randomly generated mutants, carrying L175M, M99V, and M99I, were identified to have improved activity. These mutants are potentially useful in pathway engineering for the production of astaxanthin.
PMCID: PMC1563626  PMID: 16957201
3.  Structure and functional analysis of a marine bacterial carotenoid biosynthesis gene cluster and astaxanthin biosynthetic pathway proposed at the gene level. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(22):6575-6584.
A carotenoid biosynthesis gene cluster for the production of astaxanthin was isolated from the marine bacterium Agrobacterium aurantiacum. This cluster contained five carotenogenic genes with the same orientation, which were designated crtW, crtZ, crtY, crtI, and crtB. The stop codons of individual crt genes except for crtB overlapped the start codons of the following crt genes. Escherichia coli transformants carrying the Erwinia uredovora carotenoid biosynthesis genes provide suitable substrates for carotenoid biosynthesis. The functions of the five crt genes of A. aurantiacum were determined through chromatographic and spectroscopic analyses of the pigments accumulated in some E. coli transformants carrying various combinations of the E. uredovora and A. aurantiacum carotenogenic genes. As a result, the astaxanthin biosynthetic pathway is proposed for the first time at the level of the biosynthesis genes. The crtW and crtZ gene products, which mediated the oxygenation reactions from beta-carotene to astaxanthin, were found to have low substrate specificity. This allowed the production of many presumed intermediates of astaxanthin, i.e., adonixanthin, phoenicoxanthin (adonirubin), canthaxanthin, 3'-hydroxyechinenone, and 3-hydroxyechinenone.
PMCID: PMC177511  PMID: 7592436
4.  Conversion of β-carotene into astaxanthin: Two separate enzymes or a bifunctional hydroxylase-ketolase protein? 
Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll of great interest in animal nutrition and human health. The market prospect in the nutraceutics industries for this health-protective molecule is very promising. Astaxanthin is synthesized by several bacteria, algae and plants from β-carotene by the sequential action of two enzymes: a β-carotene, 3,3'-hydroxylase that introduces an hydroxyl group at the 3 (and 3') positions of each of the two β-ionone rings of β-carotene, and a β-carotene ketolase that introduces keto groups at carbons 4 and 4' of the β-ionone rings. Astaxanthin is also produced by the yeast-like basidiomycete Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous. A gene crtS involved in the conversion of β-carotene to astaxanthin has been cloned simultaneously by two research groups. Complementation studies of X. dendrorhous mutants and expression analysis in Mucor circinelloides reveals that the CrtS enzyme is a β-carotene hydroxylase of the P-450 monooxygenase family that converts β-carotene to the hydroxylated derivatives β-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin, but it does not form astaxanthin or the ketolated intermediates in this fungus. A bifunctional β-carotene hydroxylase-ketolase activity has been proposed for the CrtS protein. The evidence for and against this hypothesis is analyzed in detail in this review.
PMCID: PMC2288588  PMID: 18289382
5.  Engineering of a plasmid-free Escherichia coli strain for improved in vivo biosynthesis of astaxanthin 
The xanthophyll astaxanthin is a high-value compound with applications in the nutraceutical, cosmetic, food, and animal feed industries. Besides chemical synthesis and extraction from naturally producing organisms like Haematococcus pluvialis, heterologous biosynthesis in non-carotenogenic microorganisms like Escherichia coli, is a promising alternative for sustainable production of natural astaxanthin. Recent achievements in the metabolic engineering of E. coli strains have led to a significant increase in the productivity of carotenoids like lycopene or β-carotene by increasing the metabolic flux towards the isoprenoid precursors. For the heterologous biosynthesis of astaxanthin in E. coli, however, the conversion of β-carotene to astaxanthin is obviously the most critical step towards an efficient biosynthesis of astaxanthin.
Here we report the construction of the first plasmid-free E. coli strain that produces astaxanthin as the sole carotenoid compound with a yield of 1.4 mg/g cdw (E. coli BW-ASTA). This engineered E. coli strain harbors xanthophyll biosynthetic genes from Pantoea ananatis and Nostoc punctiforme as individual expression cassettes on the chromosome and is based on a β-carotene-producing strain (E. coli BW-CARO) recently developed in our lab. E. coli BW-CARO has an enhanced biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and produces β-carotene in a concentration of 6.2 mg/g cdw. The expression of crtEBIY along with the β-carotene-ketolase gene crtW148 (NpF4798) and the β-carotene-hydroxylase gene (crtZ) under controlled expression conditions in E. coli BW-ASTA directed the pathway exclusively towards the desired product astaxanthin (1.4 mg/g cdw).
By using the λ-Red recombineering technique, genes encoding for the astaxanthin biosynthesis pathway were stably integrated into the chromosome of E. coli. The expression levels of chromosomal integrated recombinant biosynthetic genes were varied and adjusted to improve the ratios of carotenoids produced by this E. coli strain. The strategy presented, which combines chromosomal integration of biosynthetic genes with the possibility of adjusting expression by using different promoters, might be useful as a general approach for the construction of stable heterologous production strains synthesizing natural products. This is the case especially for heterologous pathways where excessive protein overexpression is a hindrance.
PMCID: PMC3111352  PMID: 21521516
astaxanthin; chromosomal integration; E. coli
6.  Cloning and Characterization of Genes Involved in Nostoxanthin Biosynthesis of Sphingomonas elodea ATCC 31461 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35099.
Most Sphingomonas species synthesize the yellow carotenoid nostoxanthin. However, the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway of these species remains unclear. In this study, we cloned and characterized a carotenoid biosynthesis gene cluster containing four carotenogenic genes (crtG, crtY, crtI and crtB) and a β-carotene hydroxylase gene (crtZ) located outside the cluster, from the gellan-gum producing bacterium Sphingomonas elodea ATCC 31461. Each of these genes was inactivated, and the biochemical function of each gene was confirmed based on chromatographic and spectroscopic analysis of the intermediates accumulated in the knockout mutants. Moreover, the crtG gene encoding the 2,2′-β-hydroxylase and the crtZ gene encoding the β-carotene hydroxylase, both responsible for hydroxylation of β-carotene, were confirmed by complementation studies using Escherichia coli producing different carotenoids. Expression of crtG in zeaxanthin and β-carotene accumulating E. coli cells resulted in the formation of nostoxanthin and 2,2′-dihydroxy-β-carotene, respectively. Based on these results, a biochemical pathway for synthesis of nostoxanthin in S. elodea ATCC 31461 is proposed.
PMCID: PMC3324416  PMID: 22509387
7.  Metabolic Engineering of the Carotenoid Biosynthetic Pathway in the Yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (Phaffia rhodozyma) 
The crtYB locus was used as an integrative platform for the construction of specific carotenoid biosynthetic mutants in the astaxanthin-producing yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous. The crtYB gene of X. dendrorhous, encoding a chimeric carotenoid biosynthetic enzyme, could be inactivated by both single and double crossover events, resulting in non-carotenoid-producing transformants. In addition, the crtYB gene, linked to either its homologous or a glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase promoter, was overexpressed in the wild type and a β-carotene-accumulating mutant of X. dendrorhous. In several transformants containing multiple copies of the crtYB gene, the total carotenoid content was higher than in the control strain. This increase was mainly due to an increase of the β-carotene and echinone content, whereas the total content of astaxanthin was unaffected or even lower. Overexpression of the phytoene synthase-encoding gene (crtI) had a large impact on the ratio between mono- and bicyclic carotenoids. Furthermore, we showed that in metabolic engineered X. dendrorhous strains, the competition between the enzymes phytoene desaturase and lycopene cyclase for lycopene governs the metabolic flux either via β-carotene to astaxanthin or via 3,4-didehydrolycopene to 3-hydroxy-3′-4′-didehydro-β-ψ-caroten-4-one (HDCO). The monocylic carotenoid torulene and HDCO, normally produced as minority carotenoids, were the main carotenoids produced in these strains.
PMCID: PMC165150  PMID: 12839738
8.  Recombinant Expression of Pleurocidin cDNA Using the Pichia pastoris Expression System 
This research utilized the Pichia pastoris expression system for recombinant expression of cDNA of pleurocidin, a small (2.7 kd) antimicrobial peptide isolated from winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus). The Pichia vector contains the alcohol oxidase gene promoter (AOX 1), which under the induction of methanol allows for expression of heterologous protein gene inserted downstream in the vector. Two strains of P pastoris were used as host cells, the wild type (P pastoris X-33(mut+)) and the mutant (P pasatoris KM71H(muts)). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing showed that pleurocidin cDNA was successfully integrated into the P pastoris genome. Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR showed that pleurocidin was transcribed by both Pichia host strains. Affinity chromatography, SDS-PAGE, and immunological techniques were used for purification and detection of recombinant peptide. Although there was strong evidence of transcription of pleurocidin cDNA, the Pichia system requires further optimization to obtain detectable levels of this small peptide.
PMCID: PMC1361485  PMID: 16489270
9.  Metabolic Engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for Astaxanthin Production and Oxidative Stress Tolerance▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(22):7205-7211.
The red carotenoid astaxanthin possesses higher antioxidant activity than other carotenoids and has great commercial potential for use in the aquaculture, pharmaceutical, and food industries. In this study, we produced astaxanthin in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae by introducing the genes involved in astaxanthin biosynthesis of carotenogenic microorganisms. In particular, expression of genes of the red yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous encoding phytoene desaturase (crtI product) and bifunctional phytoene synthase/lycopene cyclase (crtYB product) resulted in the accumulation of a small amount of β-carotene in S. cerevisiae. Overexpression of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) synthase from S. cerevisiae (the BTS1 gene product) increased the intracellular β-carotene levels due to the accelerated conversion of farnesyl pyrophosphate to GGPP. Introduction of the X. dendrorhous crtS gene, encoding astaxanthin synthase, assumed to be the cytochrome P450 enzyme, did not lead to astaxanthin production. However, coexpression of CrtS with X. dendrorhous CrtR, a cytochrome P450 reductase, resulted in the accumulation of a small amount of astaxanthin. In addition, the β-carotene-producing yeast cells transformed by the bacterial genes crtW and crtZ, encoding β-carotene ketolase and hydroxylase, respectively, also accumulated astaxanthin and its intermediates, echinenone, canthaxanthin, and zeaxanthin. Interestingly, we found that these ketocarotenoids conferred oxidative stress tolerance on S. cerevisiae cells. This metabolic engineering has potential for overproduction of astaxanthin and breeding of novel oxidative stress-tolerant yeast strains.
PMCID: PMC2786542  PMID: 19801484
10.  Expression of an Endo-β-1,4-glucanase Gene from Orpinomyces PC-2 in Pichia pastoris 
The endo-β-1,4-glucanase gene celE from the anaerobic fungus Orpinomyces PC-2 was placed under the control of an alcohol oxidase promoter (AOX1) in the plasmid pPIC9K, and integrated into the genome of a methylotrophic yeast P. pastoris GS115 by electroporation. The strain with highest endo-β-1,4-glucanase activity was selected and designed as P. pastoris egE, and cultivated in shaking flasks. The culture supernatant was assayed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and showed a single band at about 52 kDa. Furthermore, the recombinant P. pastoris egE was proved to possess the ability to utilize sodium carboxymethyl cellulose as a carbon source. The recombinant endoglucanase produced by P. pastoris showed maximum activity at pH 6.0 and temperature 45 °C, indicating it was a mesophilic neutral endo-β-1,4-glucanase, suitable for denim biofinishing/washing. Further research was carried out in suitable fermentation medium in shaking flasks. The most favorable methanol addition concentration was discussed and given as 1.0%. After methanol induction for 96 h, the endo-β-1,4-glucanase activity reached 72.5 IU mL−1. This is the first report on expression and characterization of endo-β-1,4-glucanase from Orpinomyces in P. pastoris. The endo-β-1,4-glucanase secreted by recombinant P. pastoris represents an attractive potential for both academic research and textile industry application.
PMCID: PMC3116196  PMID: 21686190
endo-β-1,4-glucanase; Pichia pastoris; heterologous expression; neutral cellulase; induction medium
11.  Expression of endo-1, 4-beta-xylanase from Trichoderma reesei in Pichia pastoris and functional characterization of the produced enzyme 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:56.
In recent years, xylanases have attracted considerable research interest because of their potential in various industrial applications. The yeast Pichia pastoris can neither utilize nor degrade xylan, but it possesses many attributes that render it an attractive host for the expression and production of industrial enzymes.
The Xyn2 gene, which encodes the main Trichoderma reesei Rut C-30 endo-β-1, 4-xylanase was cloned into the pPICZαA vector and expressed in Pichia pastoris. The selected P. pastoris strains produced as 4,350 nkat/ml β-xylanase under the control of the methanol inducible alcohol oxidase 1 (AOX1) promoter. The secreted recombinant Xyn2 was estimated by SDS-PAGE to be 21 kDa. The activity of the recombinant Xyn2 was highest at 60°C and it was active over a broad range of pH (3.0–8.0) with maximal activity at pH 6.0. The enzyme was quite stable at 50°C and retained more than 94% of its activity after 30 mins incubation at this temperature. Using Birchwood xylan, the determined apparent Km and kcat values were 2.1 mg/ml and 219.2 S-1, respectively. The enzyme was highly specific towards xylan and analysis of xylan hydrolysis products confirmed as expected that the enzyme functions as endo-xylanase with xylotriose as the main hydrolysis products. The produced xylanase was practically free of cellulolytic activity.
The P. pastoris expression system allows a high level expression of xylanases. Xylanase was the main protein species in the culture supernatant, and the functional tests indicated that even the non-purified enzyme shows highly specific xylanase activity that is free of cellulolytic side acitivities. Therefore, P pastoris is a very useful expression system when the goal is highly specific and large scale production of glycosyl hydrolases.
PMCID: PMC2702311  PMID: 19527524
12.  Cloning, expression and characterization of an ethanol tolerant GH3 β-glucosidase from Myceliophthora thermophila 
PeerJ  2013;1:e46.
The β-glucosidase gene bgl3a from Myceliophthora thermophila, member of the fungal glycosyl hydrolase (GH) family 3, was cloned and expressed in Pichia pastoris. The mature β-glucosidase gene, which results after the excision of one intron and the secreting signal peptide, was placed under the control of the strong alcohol oxidase promoter (AOX1) in the plasmid pPICZαC. The recombinant enzyme (90 kDa) was purified and characterized in order to evaluate its biotechnological potential. Recombinant P. pastoris efficiently secreted β-glucosidase into the medium and produced high level of enzymatic activity (41 U/ml) after 192 h of growth, under methanol induction. MtBgl3a was able to hydrolyze low molecular weight substrates and polysaccharides containing β-glucosidic residues. The Km was found to be 0.39 mM on p-β-NPG and 2.64 mM on cellobiose. Optimal pH and temperature for the p-β-NPG hydrolysis were 5.0 and 70 °C. The β-glucosidase exhibits a half life of 143 min at 60 °C. Kinetic parameters of inhibition were determined for D-glucose, D-xylose and D-gluconic acid, indicating tolerance of the enzyme for these sugars and oxidized products. The recombinant enzyme was stimulated by short chain alcohols and has been shown to efficiently synthesize methyl-D-glucoside in the presence of methanol due to its transglycosylation activity. The stability of MtBgl3a in ethanol was prominent, and it retained most of its original activity after we exposed it to 50% ethanol for 6 h. The high catalytic performance, good thermal stability and tolerance to elevated concentrations of ethanol, D-xylose and D-glucose qualify this enzyme for use in the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuel production, as part of an efficient complete multi-enzyme cocktail.
PMCID: PMC3628895  PMID: 23638383
Glycoside hydrolase family 3; Myceliophthora thermophila; Pichia pastoris; Overexpression; β-glucosidase; Transglycosylation; Ethanol tolerance; Thermophilic
13.  High-Level Production of Beta-Carotene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by Successive Transformation with Carotenogenic Genes from Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(13):4342-4350.
To determine whether Saccharomyces cerevisiae can serve as a host for efficient carotenoid and especially β-carotene production, carotenogenic genes from the carotenoid-producing yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous were introduced and overexpressed in S. cerevisiae. Because overexpression of these genes from an episomal expression vector resulted in unstable strains, the genes were integrated into genomic DNA to yield stable, carotenoid-producing S. cerevisiae cells. Furthermore, carotenoid production levels were higher in strains containing integrated carotenogenic genes. Overexpression of crtYB (which encodes a bifunctional phytoene synthase and lycopene cyclase) and crtI (phytoene desaturase) from X. dendrorhous was sufficient to enable carotenoid production. Carotenoid production levels were increased by additional overexpression of a homologous geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) synthase from S. cerevisiae that is encoded by BTS1. Combined overexpression of crtE (heterologous GGPP synthase) from X. dendrorhous with crtYB and crtI and introduction of an additional copy of a truncated 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase gene (tHMG1) into carotenoid-producing cells resulted in a successive increase in carotenoid production levels. The strains mentioned produced high levels of intermediates of the carotenogenic pathway and comparable low levels of the preferred end product β-carotene, as determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. We finally succeeded in constructing an S. cerevisiae strain capable of producing high levels of β-carotene, up to 5.9 mg/g (dry weight), which was accomplished by the introduction of an additional copy of crtI and tHMG1 into carotenoid-producing yeast cells. This transformant is promising for further development toward the biotechnological production of β-carotene by S. cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC1932764  PMID: 17496128
14.  Generation of diploid Pichia pastoris strains by mating and their application for recombinant protein production 
Yeast mating provides an efficient means for strain and library construction. However, biotechnological applications of mating in the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris have been hampered because of concerns about strain stability of P. pastoris diploids. The aim of the study reported here is to investigate heterologous protein expression in diploid P. pastoris strains and to evaluate diploid strain stability using high cell density fermentation processes.
By using a monoclonal antibody as a target protein, we demonstrate that recombinant protein production in both wild-type and glycoengineered P. pastoris diploids is stable and efficient during a nutrient rich shake flask cultivation. When diploid strains were cultivated under bioreactor conditions, sporulation was observed. Nevertheless, both wild-type and glycoengineered P. pastoris diploids showed robust productivity and secreted recombinant antibody of high quality. Specifically, the yeast culture maintained a diploid state for 240 h post-induction phase while protein titer and N-linked glycosylation profiles were comparable to that of a haploid strain expressing the same antibody. As an application of mating, we also constructed an antibody display library and used mating to generate novel full-length antibody sequences.
To the best of our knowledge, this study reports for the first time a comprehensive characterization of recombinant protein expression and fermentation using diploid P. pastoris strains. Data presented here support the use of mating for various applications including strain consolidation, variable-region glycosylation antibody display library, and process optimization.
PMCID: PMC3503796  PMID: 22748191
Mating; Diploid; Pichia pastoris; Strain stability; Fermentation; Recombinant protein expression
15.  Surface Display and Bioactivity of Bombyx mori Acetylcholinesterase on Pichia pastoris 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70451.
A Pichia pastoris (P. pastoris) cell surface display system of Bombyx mori acetylcholinesterase (BmAChE) was constructed and its bioactivity was studied. The modified Bombyx mori acetylcholinesterase gene (bmace) was fused with the anchor protein (AGα1) from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and transformed into P. pastoris strain GS115. The recombinant strain harboring the fusion gene bmace-AGα1 was induced to display BmAChE on the P. pastoris cell surface. Fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry assays revealed that the BmAChE was successfully displayed on the cell surface of P. pastoris GS115. The enzyme activity of the displayed BmAChE was detected by the Ellman method at 787.7 U/g (wet cell weight). In addition, bioactivity of the displayed BmAChE was verified by inhibition tests conducted with eserine, and with carbamate and organophosphorus pesticides. The displayed BmAChE had an IC50 of 4.17×10−8 M and was highly sensitive to eserine and five carbamate pesticides, as well as seven organophosphorus pesticides. Results suggest that the displayed BmAChE had good bioactivity.
PMCID: PMC3734245  PMID: 23940577
16.  Engineered Pichia pastoris for enhanced production of S-adenosylmethionine 
AMB Express  2013;3:40.
A genetically engineered strain of Pichia pastoris expressing S-adenosylmethionine synthetase gene from Saccharomyces cerevisiae under the control of AOX 1 promoter was developed. Induction of recombinant strain with 1% methanol resulted in the expression of SAM2 protein of ~ 42 kDa, whereas control GS115 showed no such band. Further, the recombinant strain showed 17-fold higher enzyme activity over control. Shake flask cultivation of engineered P. pastoris in BMGY medium supplemented with 1% L-methionine yielded 28 g/L wet cell weight and 0.6 g/L S-adenosylmethionine, whereas control (transformants with vector alone) with similar wet cell weight under identical conditions accumulated 0.018 g/L. The clone cultured in the bioreactor containing enriched methionine medium showed increased WCW (117 g/L) as compared to shake flask cultures and yielded 2.4 g/L S-adenosylmethionine. In spite of expression of SAM 2 gene up to 90 h, S-adenosylmethionine accumulation tended to plateau after 72 h, presumably because of the limited ATP available in the cells at stationery phase. The recombinant P pastoris seems promising as potential source for industrial production of S-adenosylmethionine.
PMCID: PMC3750815  PMID: 23890127
S-adenosylmethionine synthetase; Pichia pastoris; Heterologous host; Bioreactor
17.  Secretion and activity of antimicrobial peptide cecropin D expressed in Pichia pastoris 
To express the antimicrobial peptide cecropin D in Pichia pastoris and determine the activity of the expressed product, four oligonucleotide fragments were synthesized in accordance with the available cecropin D sequences and a codon bias suitable for Pichia pastoris. Sequence fragments were phosphorylated, annealed, linked and cloned into the expression vector pGAPZαA and the yeast α-mating factor signal peptide was used as the signal sequence. The P. pastoris SMD1168 cells were transformed by electroporation using the constructed recombinant plasmid pGAPZαA-cecropin D. We were able to demonstrate by PCR that the cecropin D sequence had integrated into the P. pastoris genome. The expressed and secreted product was identified using Tricine-SDS-PAGE. Antibacterial activity was demonstrated using an agarose diffusion test and turbidimetry. The molecular mass of the recombinant cecropin D was estimated to be 3,900 Da. The recombinant cecropin D exhibited antibacterial activity for both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, suggesting that cecropin D was successfully expressed in P. pastoris. This approach holds great promise for antibacterial drug development.
PMCID: PMC3494115  PMID: 23226775
antimicrobial peptide cecropin D; Pichia pastoris; antibacterial activity
18.  Functional characterization of various algal carotenoid ketolases reveals that ketolating zeaxanthin efficiently is essential for high production of astaxanthin in transgenic Arabidopsis 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(10):3659-3669.
Extending the carotenoid pathway to astaxanthin in plants is of scientific and industrial interest. However, expression of a microbial β-carotene ketolase (BKT) that catalyses the formation of ketocarotenoids in transgenic plants typically results in low levels of astaxanthin. The low efficiency of BKTs in ketolating zeaxanthin to astaxanthin is proposed to be the major limitation for astaxanthin accumulation in engineered plants. To verify this hypothesis, several algal BKTs were functionally characterized using an Escherichia coli system and three BKTs were identified, with high (up to 85%), moderate (∼38%), and low (∼1%) conversion rate from zeaxanthin to astaxanthin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrBKT), Chlorella zofingiensis (CzBKT), and Haematococcus pluvialis (HpBKT3), respectively. Transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing the CrBKT developed orange leaves which accumulated astaxanthin up to 2 mg g−1 dry weight with a 1.8-fold increase in total carotenoids. In contrast, the expression of CzBKT resulted in much lower astaxanthin content (0.24 mg g−1 dry weight), whereas HpBKT3 was unable to mediate synthesis of astaxanthin in A. thaliana. The none-native astaxanthin was found mostly in a free form integrated into the light-harvesting complexes of photosystem II in young leaves but in esterified forms in senescent leaves. The alteration of carotenoids did not affect chlorophyll content, plant growth, or development significantly. The astaxanthin-producing plants were more tolerant to high light as shown by reduced lipid peroxidation. This study advances a decisive step towards the utilization of plants for the production of high-value astaxanthin.
PMCID: PMC3130182  PMID: 21398427
Arabidopsis thaliana; astaxanthin; β-carotene ketolase; carotenoid; Haematococcus pluvialis
19.  High Expression of Methylotrophic Yeast-Derived Recombinant Human Erythropoietin in a pH-Controlled Batch System 
To accomplish the worldwide demand for recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) as a therapeutic, application of cost-efficient expression system of methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris (P. pastoris) rather than mammalian cells is indispensable. Herein, a report on high levels secreted-expression of Pichia-derived rHuEpo by batch fermentation in a pH stabilized format is presented. The full length cDNA of rHuEpo was inserted into pPICZαA vector under control of AOX1 promoter, downstream of the secretion-α-factor and electroporated into P. pastoris strain X33. The highest expression transformant was selected by screening among the colonies surviving high concentration of Zeocin (1.0 mg/ml), followed by comparative small scale expression analysis by ELISA. Stabilization of pH around 6.0 by adding phosphoric acid into the culture media during induction period, improved the yield of expression to 150 mg/l of the media. Single-step Nickel-affinity chromatography was employed for purification of rHuEpo-6xHis to 80% purity. Analyses by SDS-PAGE, Western blot and N-terminal protein sequencing confirmed the authenticity of the 33 kDa expressed rHuEpo with a native N-terminal indicating the proper cleavage of secretion-signal. Results of this study, further confirmed the possibility of employing methylotrophic yeast for scaled up production aims of rHuEpo as a cost-efficient expression system when provided evidence for higher expression yields through application of pH-controlled systems.
PMCID: PMC3558167  PMID: 23407145
Erythropoietin; Fermentation; Pichia pastoris; Yeasts
20.  Expression of the lacZ gene from two methanol-regulated promoters in Pichia pastoris. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1987;15(9):3859-3876.
Two DNA fragments containing putative control regions regulating the expression of the alcohol oxidase (AOX) and dihydroxy-acetone synthase (DAS) genes from the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris were used in the construction of vectors for the expression of the Escherichia coli lacZ gene. These vectors were transformed into P. pastoris host cells and employed in experiments to measure the control mechanisms employed by each promoter in the production of beta-galactosidase fusion products. Results in P. pastoris suggest that the processes used to regulate the expression of these gene fusions involve both repression/derepression and induction mechanisms. Expression of the AOX-lacZ and DAS-lacZ fusions was examined in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as well. Interestingly, beta-galactosidase was expressed in a regulated manner in the heterologous host.
PMCID: PMC340787  PMID: 3108861
21.  The effect of gamma irradiation on astaxanthin synthetase encoding gene in two mutant strains of Phaffia rhodozyma  
Iranian Journal of Microbiology  2013;5(3):293-298.
Background and Objectives
Astaxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid pigment, acts as a protective agent against oxidative damage to cells in vivo. The astaxanthin synthetase gene (crtS) size consists of 3995 bp. This gene has been suggested to catalyse β-carotene to astaxanthin in Phaffia rhodozyma. The aim of this research was to find any possible changes in this gene in two mutant strains, Gam1 and Gam2 (with high astaxanthin pigment production), previously created by gamma irradiation.
Materials and Methods
The astaxanthin synthetase gene sequence of Phaffia rhodozyma in the NCBI Gene bank was used to design primer. In Gam1, this gene was amplified using primers Asta F1, Asta R2, Asta F3, Asta R4. In Gam2, primers asta F1, asta R4 were used to amplify the gene. The amplified fragments were 8 sequenced using primers Asta F1, Asta R1, Asta F2, Asta R2, Asta F3, Asta R3 and Asta F4, Asta R4. Astaxanthin synthetase gene from two mutant strains, Gam1 and Gam2 were amplified using PCR. The amplified products were sequenced and aligned using the ClustalW software.
The comparison of this gene showed 98% and 99% similarities between the reference sequence and Gam1 and Gam2 mutant strains, respectively, whereas the comparison of this gene in Gam1 and Gam2 mutant strains showed 97% similarity. However, the deduced proteins showed 78% and 83% between the reference protein obtained from the wild type and Gam1 and Gam2, respectively. This similarity was 75% between the mutant strains.
PMCID: PMC3895570  PMID: 24475339
Astaxanthin; Phaffia rhodozyma; yeast; Astaxanthin synthetase; cytochrome P450
22.  A Comparative Study on the Expression, Purification and Functional Characterization of Human Adiponectin in Pichia pastoris and Escherichia coli 
Adiponectin is one of the most bioactive substances secreted by adipose tissue and is involved in the protection against metabolic syndrome, artherosclerosis and type II diabetes. Research into the use of adiponectin as a promising drug for metabolic syndromes requires production of this hormone in high quantities considering its molecular isoforms. The objective of this study is to produce recombinant human adiponectin by Pichia pastoris (P-ADP) as a cheap and convenient eukaryotic expression system for potential application in pharmaceutical therapy. For comparison, adiponectin was also expressed using the Escherichia coli (E-ADP) expression system. Adiponectin was constructed by overlap-extension PCR, and cloned in standard cloning vector and hosts. Recombinant expression vectors were cloned in the P. pastoris and E. coli host strains, respectively. SDS-PAGE and western blotting were used to detect and analyse expressed recombinant protein in both systems. Adiponectin was purified by affinity chromatography and quantified using the Bradford Assay. The results of this study indicated that P-ADP quantity (0.111 mg/mL) was higher than that of E-ADP (0.04 mg/mL) and both were produced in soluble form. However, P-ADP was able to form high molecular weights of adiponectin molecules, whilst E-ADP was not able to form isoforms higher than trimer. In addition, P-ADP was more active in lowering blood glucose compared with E-ADP. The two types of proteins were equally efficient and significantly decreased blood triglyceride and increased high density lipoprotein. We conclude that P. pastoris is able to produce high quantity of bioactive adiponectin for potential use in treatment of metabolic syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3317727  PMID: 22489167
adiponectin; Pichia pastoris; E.coli; recombinant protein; biological activity
23.  Pichia pastoris as a host system for transformations. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1985;5(12):3376-3385.
We developed a methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris, as a host for DNA transformations. The system is based on an auxotrophic mutant host of P. pastoris which is defective in histidinol dehydrogenase. As a selectable marker, we isolated and characterized the P. pastoris HIS4 gene. Plasmid vectors which contained either the P. pastoris or the Saccharomyces cerevisiae HIS4 gene transformed the P. pastoris mutant host. DNA transfer was accomplished by a modified version of the spheroplast generation (CaCl2-polyethylene glycol)-fusion procedure developed for S. cerevisiae. In addition, we report the isolation and characterization of P. pastoris DNA fragments with autonomous replication sequence activity. Two fragments, PARS1 and PARS2, when present on plasmids increased transformation frequencies to 10(5)/micrograms and maintained the plasmids as autonomous elements in P. pastoris cells.
PMCID: PMC369166  PMID: 3915774
24.  Combined Use of Fluorescent Dyes and Flow Cytometry To Quantify the Physiological State of Pichia pastoris during the Production of Heterologous Proteins in High-Cell-Density Fed-Batch Cultures▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(13):4486-4496.
Matching both the construction of a recombinant strain and the process design with the characteristics of the target protein has the potential to significantly enhance bioprocess performance, robustness, and reproducibility. The factors affecting the physiological state of recombinant Pichia pastoris Mut+ (methanol utilization-positive) strains and their cell membranes were quantified at the individual cell level using a combination of staining with fluorescent dyes and flow cytometric enumeration. Cell vitalities were found to range from 5 to 95% under various process conditions in high-cell-density fed-batch cultures, with strains producing either porcine trypsinogen or horseradish peroxidase extracellularly. Impaired cell vitality was observed to be the combined effect of production of recombinant protein, low pH, and high cell density. Vitality improved when any one of these stress factors was excluded. At a pH value of 4, which is commonly applied to counter proteolysis, recombinant strains exhibited severe physiological stress, whereas strains without heterologous genes were not affected. Physiologically compromised cells were also found to be increasingly sensitive to methanol when it accumulated in the culture broth. The magnitude of the response varied when different reporters were combined with either the native AOX1 promoter or its d6* variant, which differ in both strength and regulation. Finally, the quantitative assessment of the physiology of individual cells enables the implementation of innovative concepts in bioprocess development. Such concepts are in contrast to the frequently used paradigm, which always assumes a uniform cell population, because differentiation between the individual cells is not possible with methods commonly used.
PMCID: PMC2897410  PMID: 20472737
25.  Production of the Carotenoids Lycopene, β-Carotene, and Astaxanthin in the Food Yeast Candida utilis 
The food-grade yeast Candida utilis has been engineered to confer a novel biosynthetic pathway for the production of carotenoids such as lycopene, β-carotene, and astaxanthin. The exogenous carotenoid biosynthesis genes were derived from the epiphytic bacterium Erwinia uredovora and the marine bacterium Agrobacterium aurantiacum. The carotenoid biosynthesis genes were individually modified based on the codon usage of the C. utilis glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene and expressed in C. utilis under the control of the constitutive promoters and terminators derived from C. utilis. The resultant yeast strains accumulated lycopene, β-carotene, and astaxanthin in the cells at 1.1, 0.4, and 0.4 mg per g (dry weight) of cells, respectively. This was considered to be a result of the carbon flow into ergosterol biosynthesis being partially redirected to the nonendogenous pathway for carotenoid production.
PMCID: PMC106133  PMID: 9546156

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