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1.  Expression of codon optimized genes in microbial systems: current industrial applications and perspectives 
The efficient production of functional proteins in heterologous hosts is one of the major bases of modern biotechnology. Unfortunately, many genes are difficult to express outside their original context. Due to their apparent “silent” nature, synonymous codon substitutions have long been thought to be trivial. In recent years, this dogma has been refuted by evidence that codon replacement can have a significant impact on gene expression levels and protein folding. In the past decade, considerable advances in the speed and cost of gene synthesis have facilitated the complete redesign of entire gene sequences, dramatically improving the likelihood of high protein expression. This technology significantly impacts the economic feasibility of microbial-based biotechnological processes by, for example, increasing the volumetric productivities of recombinant proteins or facilitating the redesign of novel biosynthetic routes for the production of metabolites. This review discusses the current applications of this technology, particularly those regarding the production of small molecules and industrially relevant recombinant enzymes. Suggestions for future research and potential uses are provided as well.
PMCID: PMC3912506  PMID: 24550894
synthetic biology; gene design; codon optimization; strain engineering; microbial systems
2.  The Rcs Signal Transduction Pathway Is Triggered by Enterobacterial Common Antigen Structure Alterations in Serratia marcescens▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;193(1):63-74.
The enterobacterial common antigen (ECA) is a highly conserved exopolysaccharide in Gram-negative bacteria whose role remains largely uncharacterized. In a previous work, we have demonstrated that disrupting the integrity of the ECA biosynthetic pathway imposed severe deficiencies to the Serratia marcescens motile (swimming and swarming) capacity. In this work, we show that alterations in the ECA structure activate the Rcs phosphorelay, which results in the repression of the flagellar biogenesis regulatory cascade. In addition, a detailed analysis of wec cluster mutant strains, which provoke the disruption of the ECA biosynthesis at different levels of the pathway, suggests that the absence of the periplasmic ECA cyclic structure could constitute a potential signal detected by the RcsF-RcsCDB phosphorelay. We also identify SMA1167 as a member of the S. marcescens Rcs regulon and show that high osmolarity induces Rcs activity in this bacterium. These results provide a new perspective from which to understand the phylogenetic conservation of ECA among enterobacteria and the basis for the virulence attenuation detected in wec mutant strains in other pathogenic bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3019949  PMID: 20971912
3.  mgtA Expression Is Induced by Rob Overexpression and Mediates a Salmonella enterica Resistance Phenotype▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(14):4951-4958.
Rob is a member of the Sox/Mar subfamily of AraC/XylS-type transcriptional regulators implicated in bacterial multidrug, heavy metal, superoxide, and organic solvent resistance phenotypes. We demonstrate that, in Salmonella enterica, Rob overexpression upregulates the transcription of mgtA, which codes for the MgtA Mg2+ transporter. mgtA was previously characterized as a member of the Mg2+-modulated PhoPQ regulon. Here we demonstrate that Rob (but not its paralog protein SoxS or MarA) is able to induce mgtA transcription in a PhoP-independent fashion by binding to a conserved Mar/Sox/Rob motif localized downstream of the PhoP-box and overlapping the PhoP-dependent transcriptional start site. We found that Rob-induced mgtA expression confers low-level cyclohexane resistance on Salmonella. Because mgtA intactness is required for Rob-induced cyclohexane resistance, provided the AcrAB multidrug efflux pump can be expressed, we postulate that MgtA is involved in the AcrAB-mediated cyclohexane detoxification mechanism promoted by Rob in Salmonella.
PMCID: PMC2447000  PMID: 18487336
4.  Enterobacterial Common Antigen Integrity Is a Checkpoint for Flagellar Biogenesis in Serratia marcescens▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;190(1):213-220.
Serratia marcescens strains are ubiquitous bacteria isolated from environmental niches, such as soil, water, and air, and also constitute emergent nosocomial opportunistic pathogens. Among the numerous extracellular factors that S. marcescens is able to produce, the PhlA phospholipase is the only described exoprotein secreted by the flagellar apparatus while simultaneously being a member of the flagellar regulon. To gain insight into the regulatory mechanism that couples PhlA and flagellar expression, we conducted a generalized insertional mutagenesis and screened for PhlA-deficient strains. We found that three independent mutations in the wec cluster, which impaired the assembly of enterobacterial common antigen (ECA), provoked the inhibition of PhlA expression. Swimming and swarming assays showed that in these strains, motility was severely affected. Microscopic examination and flagellin immunodetection demonstrated that a strong defect in flagellum expression was responsible for the reduced motility in the wec mutant strains. Furthermore, we determined that in the ECA-defective strains, the transcriptional cascade that controls flagellar assembly was turned off due to the down-regulation of flhDC expression. These findings provide a new perspective on the physiological role of the ECA, providing evidence that in S. marcescens, its biosynthesis conditions the expression of the flagellar regulon.
PMCID: PMC2223741  PMID: 17981971

Results 1-4 (4)