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1.  Delayed formation of zero-valent selenium nanoparticles by Bacillus mycoides SeITE01 as a consequence of selenite reduction under aerobic conditions 
Background
Selenite (SeO32−) oxyanion shows severe toxicity to biota. Different bacterial strains exist that are capable of reducing SeO32− to non-toxic elemental selenium (Se0), with the formation of Se nanoparticles (SeNPs). These SeNPs might be exploited for technological applications due to their physico-chemical and biological characteristics. The present paper discusses the reduction of selenite to SeNPs by a strain of Bacillus sp., SeITE01, isolated from the rhizosphere of the Se-hyperaccumulator legume Astragalus bisulcatus.
Results
Use of 16S rRNA and GyrB gene sequence analysis positioned SeITE01 phylogenetically close to B. mycoides. On agarized medium, this strain showed rhizoid growth whilst, in liquid cultures, it was capable of reducing 0.5 and 2.0 mM SeO32− within 12 and 24 hours, respectively. The resultant Se0 aggregated to form nanoparticles and the amount of Se0 measured was equivalent to the amount of selenium originally added as selenite to the growth medium. A delay of more than 24 hours was observed between the depletion of SeO32 and the detection of SeNPs. Nearly spherical-shaped SeNPs were mostly found in the extracellular environment whilst rarely in the cytoplasmic compartment. Size of SeNPs ranged from 50 to 400 nm in diameter, with dimensions greatly influenced by the incubation times. Different SeITE01 protein fractions were assayed for SeO32− reductase capability, revealing that enzymatic activity was mainly associated with the membrane fraction. Reduction of SeO32− was also detected in the supernatant of bacterial cultures upon NADH addition.
Conclusions
The selenite reducing bacterial strain SeITE01 was attributed to the species Bacillus mycoides on the basis of phenotypic and molecular traits. Under aerobic conditions, the formation of SeNPs were observed both extracellularly or intracellullarly. Possible mechanisms of Se0 precipitation and SeNPs assembly are suggested. SeO32− is proposed to be enzimatically reduced to Se0 through redox reactions by proteins released from bacterial cells. Sulfhydryl groups on peptides excreted outside the cells may also react directly with selenite. Furthermore, membrane reductases and the intracellular synthesis of low molecular weight thiols such as bacillithiols may also play a role in SeO32− reduction. Formation of SeNPs seems to be the result of an Ostwald ripening mechanism.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-35
PMCID: PMC3975340  PMID: 24606965
Bacillithiol; Bacillus mycoides SeITE01; Extracellular precipitation; Intracellular deposition; Ostwald ripening mechanism; Redox regulation; Selenite reduction; TEM analysis; Xenobiotic detoxification; Zero-valent selenium nanoparticles
2.  Yeast biotechnology: teaching the old dog new tricks 
Yeasts are regarded as the first microorganisms used by humans to process food and alcoholic beverages. The technology developed out of these ancient processes has been the basis for modern industrial biotechnology. Yeast biotechnology has gained great interest again in the last decades. Joining the potentials of genomics, metabolic engineering, systems and synthetic biology enables the production of numerous valuable products of primary and secondary metabolism, technical enzymes and biopharmaceutical proteins. An overview of emerging and established substrates and products of yeast biotechnology is provided and discussed in the light of the recent literature.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-34
PMCID: PMC3975642  PMID: 24602262
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Non-conventional yeasts; Metabolic engineering; Biofuels; Recombinant protein; Whole cell biocatalysis
3.  Bacterial degradation of chlorophenols and their derivatives 
Chlorophenols (CPs) and their derivatives are persistent environmental pollutants which are used in the manufacture of dyes, drugs, pesticides and other industrial products. CPs, which include monochlorophenols, polychlorophenols, chloronitrophenols, chloroaminophenols and chloromethylphenols, are highly toxic to living beings due to their carcinogenic, mutagenic and cytotoxic properties. Several physico-chemical and biological methods have been used for removal of CPs from the environment. Bacterial degradation has been considered a cost-effective and eco-friendly method of removing CPs from the environment. Several bacteria that use CPs as their sole carbon and energy sources have been isolated and characterized. Additionally, the metabolic pathways for degradation of CPs have been studied in bacteria and the genes and enzymes involved in the degradation of various CPs have been identified and characterized. This review describes the biochemical and genetic basis of the degradation of CPs and their derivatives.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-31
PMCID: PMC3975901  PMID: 24589366
Chlorophenol; Environmental pollutants; Bacterial degradation; Biodegradation
4.  MB109 as bioactive human bone morphogenetic protein-9 refolded and purified from E. coli inclusion bodies 
Background
The development of chemical refolding of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily ligands has been instrumental to produce the recombinant proteins for biochemical studies and exploring the potential of protein therapeutics. The osteogenic human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (hBMP-2) and its Drosophila DPP homolog were the early successful cases of refolding into functional form. Despite the similarity in their three dimensional structure and amino acid sequences, several other TGF-β superfamily ligands could not be refolded readily by the same methods.
Results
Here, we report a comprehensive study on the variables of a rapid-dilution refolding method, including the concentrations of protein, salt, detergent and redox agents, pH, refolding duration and the presence of aggregation suppressors and host-cell contaminants, in order to identify the optimal condition to refold human BMP-9 (hBMP-9). To produce a recombinant form of hBMP-9 in E. coli cells, a synthetic codon-optimized gene was designed to encode the mature domain of hBMP-9 (Ser320 – Arg429) directly behind the first methionine, which we herein referred to as MB109. An effective purification scheme was also developed to purify the refolded MB109 to homogeneity with a final yield of 7.8 mg from 100 mg of chromatography-purified inclusion bodies as a starting material. The chemically refolded MB109 binds to ALK1, ActRIIb and BMPRII receptors with relatively high affinity as compared to other Type I and Type II receptors based on surface plasmon resonance analysis. Smad1-dependent luciferase assay in C2C12 cells shows that the MB109 has an EC50 of 0.61 ng/mL (25 pM), which is nearly the same as hBMP-9.
Conclusion
MB109 is prone to be refolded as non-functional dimer and higher order multimers in most of the conditions tested, but bioactive MB109 dimer can be refolded with high efficiency in a narrow window, which is strongly dependent on the pH, refolding duration, the presence of aggregation suppressors and the concentrations of protein, salt and detegent. These results add to the current understanding of producing recombinant TGF-β superfamily ligands in the microbial E. coli system. An application of the technique to produce a large number of synthetic TGF-β chimeras for activity screen is also discussed.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-29
PMCID: PMC3936849  PMID: 24559319
TGF-beta; BMP-9; MB109; Refolding; Rapid dilution; E. coli; Recombinant cytokine
5.  Differential proteomic profiling reveals regulatory proteins and novel links between primary metabolism and spinosad production in Saccharopolyspora spinosa 
Background
Saccharopolyspora spinosa is an important producer of antibiotic spinosad with clarified biosynthesis pathway but its complex regulation networks associated with primary metabolism and secondary metabolites production almost have never been concerned or studied before. The proteomic analysis of a novel Saccharopolyspora spinosa CCTCC M206084 was performed and aimed to provide a global profile of regulatory proteins.
Results
Two-dimensional-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) identified 1090, 1166, 701, and 509 proteins from four phases respectively, i.e., the logarithmic growth phase (T1), early stationary phase (T2), late stationary phase (T3), and decline phase (T4). Among the identified proteins, 1579 were unique to the S. spinosa proteome, including almost all the enzymes for spinosad biosynthesis. Trends in protein expression over the various time phases were deduced from using the modified protein abundance index (PAI), revealed the importance of stress pathway proteins and other global regulatory network proteins during spinosad biosynthesis. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis followed by one-dimensional LC-MS/MS identification revealed similar trend of protein expression from four phases with the results of semi-quantification by PAI. qRT-PCR analysis revealed that 6 different expressed genes showed a positive correlation between changes at translational and transcriptional expression level. Expression of three proteins that likely promote spinosad biosynthesis, namely, 5-methyltetrahydropteroyltriglutamate-homocysteine S-methyltransferase (MHSM), glutamine synthetase (GS) and cyclic nucleotide-binding domain-containing protein (CNDP) was validated by western blot, which confirmed the results of proteomic analysis.
Conclusions
This study is the first systematic analysis of the S. spinosa proteome during fermentation and its valuable proteomic data of regulatory proteins may be used to enhance the production yield of spinosad in future studies.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-27
PMCID: PMC3936707  PMID: 24555503
Proteomics; Saccharopolyspora spinosa; LC-MS/MS; Regulatory proteins; Spinosad production
6.  The role of protein modifications in senescence of freeze-dried Acetobacter senegalensis during storage 
Background
Loss of viability is one of the most important problems during starter culture production. Previous research has mostly focused on the production process of bacterial starters, but there are few studies about cellular protein deterioration causing cell defectiveness during storage. In the present study, we investigated the influence of storage temperature (−21, 4, 35°C) on the cellular protein modifications which may contribute to the senescence of freeze-dried Acetobacter senegalensis.
Results
Heterogeneous populations composed of culturable cells, viable but non-culturable cells (VBNC) and dead cells were generated when freeze-dried cells were kept at −21 and 4°C for 12 months whereas higher storage temperature (35°C) mainly caused death of the cells. The analysis of stored cell proteome by 2D-DiGE demonstrated a modified pattern of protein profile for cell kept at 4 and 35°C due to the formation of protein spot trains and shift of Isoelectric point (pI). Quantification of carbonylated protein by ELISA showed that the cells stored at 4 and 35°C had higher carbonylated protein contents than fresh cells. 2D-DiGE followed by Western blotting also confirmed the carbonylation of cellular proteins involved in translation process and energy generation. The auto-fluorescent feature of cells kept at 35°C increased significantly which may be an indication of protein glycation during storage. In addition, the percentage of cellular unsaturated fatty acid and the solubility of cellular proteins decreased upon storage of cells at higher temperature suggesting that peroxidation of fatty acids and possibly protein lipidation and oxidation occurred.
Conclusions
High storage temperature induces some deteriorative reactions such as protein oxidation, lipidation and glycation which may cause further protein modifications like pI-shift, and protein insolubility. These modifications can partly account for the changes in cell viability. It can also be deduced that even moderate carbonylation of some critical cellular proteins (like ribosomal proteins) may lead to VBNC formation or death of freeze-dried bacteria. Moreover, it seems that other mechanisms of biomolecule deterioration preceding protein carbonylation lead to VBNC formation under very low storage temperature.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-26
PMCID: PMC3936779  PMID: 24552397
Starter; Acetic acid fermentation; Oxidative stress; Carbonylation; AGEs; Acetobacter; 2D-DiGE; VBNC; Protein
7.  Effect of metal catalyzed oxidation in recombinant viral protein assemblies 
Background
Protein assemblies, such as virus-like particles, have increasing importance as vaccines, delivery vehicles and nanomaterials. However, their use requires stable assemblies. An important cause of loss of stability in proteins is oxidation, which can occur during their production, purification and storage. Despite its importance, very few studies have investigated the effect of oxidation in protein assemblies and their structural units. In this work, we investigated the role of in vitro oxidation in the assembly and stability of rotavirus VP6, a polymorphic protein.
Results
The susceptibility to oxidation of VP6 assembled into nanotubes (VP6NT) and unassembled VP6 (VP6U) was determined and compared to bovine serum albumin (BSA) as control. VP6 was more resistant to oxidation than BSA, as determined by measuring protein degradation and carbonyl content. It was found that assembly protected VP6 from in vitro metal-catalyzed oxidation. Oxidation provoked protein aggregation and VP6NT fragmentation, as evidenced by dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy. Oxidative damage of VP6 correlated with a decrease of its center of fluorescence spectral mass. The in vitro assembly efficiency of VP6U into VP6NT decreased as the oxidant concentration increased.
Conclusions
Oxidation caused carbonylation, quenching, and destruction of aromatic amino acids and aggregation of VP6 in its assembled and unassembled forms. Such modifications affected protein functionality, including its ability to assemble. That assembly protected VP6 from oxidation shows that exposure of susceptible amino acids to the solvent increases their damage, and therefore the protein surface area that is exposed to the solvent is determinant of its susceptibility to oxidation. The inability of oxidized VP6 to assemble into nanotubes highlights the importance of avoiding this modification during the production of proteins that self-assemble. This is the first time that the role of oxidation in protein assembly is studied, evidencing that oxidation should be minimized during the production process if VP6 nanotubes are required.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-25
PMCID: PMC3928578  PMID: 24533452
Protein oxidation; Carbonylation; Virus-like particles; Viral protein assemblies; Assembly efficiency
8.  A marine sponge associated strain of Bacillus subtilis and other marine bacteria can produce anticholinesterase compounds 
Background
Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors or anticholinesterases reduce the activity of enzyme acetylcholinesterase that degrades the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. The inhibitors have a significant pharmacological role in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s etc. Although plants have been a significant source of these compounds, there are very few sporadic reports of microorganisms producing such inhibitors. Anticholinesterase activity in bacterial associates of marine soft corals and sponges were not previously reported.
Results
We screened 887 marine bacteria for the presence of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, in a microplate based assay, and found that 140 (15.8%) of them inhibit the electric eel enzyme, acetylcholinesterase. Majority of the active isolates were bacterial associates of soft corals followed by sediment isolates while most of the potent inhibitors belonged to the bacterial associates of marine sponges. Maximum inhibition (54%) was exhibited by a bacterial strain M18SP4P (ii), isolated from the marine sponge Fasciospongia cavernosa. Based on phenotypic characterization and 16S rDNA sequencing, the strain was identified as Bacillus subtilis - revealing yet another activity in a strain of the model organism that is considered to be a cell factory. TLC bioautography of the methanol extract of this culture, showed the presence of two major components having this activity, when compared to Galanthamine, the positive control.
Conclusion
From the results of our study, we conclude that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are quite prevalent in marine bacteria, particularly the bacterial associates of marine invertebrates. Several potential AChE inhibitors in marine bacteria are waiting to be discovered to provide easily manipulable natural sources for the mass production of these therapeutic compounds.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-24
PMCID: PMC3932841  PMID: 24528673
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; Galanthamine; Alzheimer’s disease; Fasciospongia cavernosa; Marine bacteria; Screening; Soft coral; marine sediment
9.  Decrease of UPR- and ERAD-related proteins in Pichia pastoris during methanol-induced secretory insulin precursor production in controlled fed-batch cultures 
Background
Pichia pastoris is a popular yeast preferably employed for secretory protein production. Secretion is not always efficient and endoplasmic retention of proteins with aberrant folding properties, or when produced at exaggerated rates, can occur. In these cases production usually leads to an unfolded protein response (UPR) and the induction of the endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD). P. pastoris is nowadays also an established host for secretory insulin precursor (IP) production, though little is known about the impact of IP production on the host cell physiology, in particular under industrially relevant production conditions. Here, we evaluate the cellular response to aox1 promoter-controlled, secretory IP production in controlled fed-batch processes using a proteome profiling approach.
Results
Cells were first grown in a batch procedure using a defined medium with a high glycerol concentration. After glycerol depletion IP production was initiated by methanol addition which was kept constant through continuous methanol feeding. The most prominent changes of the intracellular proteome after the onset of methanol feeding were related to the enzymes of central carbon metabolism. In particular, the enzymes of the methanol dissimilatory pathway - virtually absent in the glycerol batch phase - dominated the proteome during the methanol fed-batch phase. Unexpectedly, a strong decrease of UPR and ERAD related proteins was also observed during methanol-induced IP production. Compared to non-producing control strains grown under identical conditions the UPR down-regulation was less pronounced indicating that IP production elicits a detectable but non prominent UPR response which is repressed by the general culture condition-dependent UPR down-regulation after the shift from glycerol to methanol.
Conclusions
The passage of IP through the secretory pathway using an optimized IP vector and growing the strain at fed-batch conditions with a high initial glycerol concentration does not impose a significant burden on the secretory machinery even under conditions leading to an extracellular accumulation of ~ 3 g L-1 IP. The glycerol batch pre-induction culture conditions are associated with a high constitutive - recombinant protein production independent - induction of the UPR and ERAD pathways probably preconditioning the cells for effective IP secretion in the methanol fed-batch phase.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-23
PMCID: PMC3930904  PMID: 24521445
Endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD); Insulin precursor; Methanol metabolism; Pichia pastoris; Proteome; Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis; Unfolded protein response (UPR)
10.  Generation of human ER chaperone BiP in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Background
Human BiP is traditionally regarded as a major endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone performing a number of well-described functions in the ER. In recent years it was well established that this molecule can also be located in other cell organelles and compartments, on the cell surface or be secreted. Also novel functions were assigned to this protein. Importantly, BiP protein appears to be involved in cancer and rheumatoid arthritis progression, autoimmune inflammation and tissue damage, and thus could potentially be used for therapeutic purposes. In addition, a growing body of evidence indicates BiP as a new therapeutic target for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Increasing importance of this protein and its involvement in critical human diseases demands new source of high quality native recombinant human BiP for further studies and potential application. Here we introduce yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a host for the generation of human BiP protein.
Results
Expression of a full-length human BiP precursor in S. cerevisiae resulted in a high-level secretion of mature recombinant protein into the culture medium. The newly discovered ability of the yeast cells to recognize, correctly process the native signal sequence of human BiP and secrete this protein into the growth media allowed simple one-step purification of highly pure recombinant BiP protein with yields reaching 10 mg/L. Data presented in this study shows that secreted recombinant human BiP possesses native amino acid sequence and structural integrity, is biologically active and without yeast-derived modifications. Strikingly, ATPase activity of yeast-derived human BiP protein exceeded the activity of E. coli-derived recombinant human BiP by a 3-fold.
Conclusions
S. cerevisiae is able to correctly process and secrete human BiP protein. Consequently, resulting recombinant BiP protein corresponds accurately to native analogue. The ability to produce large quantities of native recombinant human BiP in yeast expression system should accelerate the analysis and application of this important protein.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-22
PMCID: PMC3926315  PMID: 24512104
11.  Production of shikimic acid from Escherichia coli through chemically inducible chromosomal evolution and cofactor metabolic engineering 
Background
Shikimic acid (SA) produced from the seeds of Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) is a key intermediate for the synthesis of neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), an anti-influenza drug. However, plants cannot deliver a stable supply of SA. To avoid the resulting shortages and price fluctuations, a stable source of affordable SA is required. Although recent achievements in metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli strains have significantly increased SA productivity, commonly-used plasmid-based expression systems are prone to genetic instability and require constant selective pressure to ensure plasmid maintenance. Cofactors also play an important role in the biosynthesis of different fermentation products. In this study, we first constructed an E. coli SA production strain that carries no plasmid or antibiotic marker. We then investigated the effect of endogenous NADPH availability on SA production.
Results
The pps and csrB genes were first overexpressed by replacing their native promoter and integrating an additional copy of the genes in a double gene knockout (aroK and aroL) of E. coli. The aroG fbr , aroB, aroE and tktA gene cluster was integrated into the above E. coli chromosome by direct transformation. The gene copy number was then evolved to the desired value by triclosan induction. The resulting strain, E. coli SA110, produced 8.9-fold more SA than did the parental strain E. coli (ΔaroKΔaroL). Following qRT-PCR analysis, another copy of the tktA gene under the control of the 5Ptac promoter was inserted into the chromosome of E. coli SA110 to obtain the more productive strain E. coli SA110. Next, the NADPH availability was increased by overexpressing the pntAB or nadK genes, which further enhanced SA production. The final strain, E. coli SA116, produced 3.12 g/L of SA with a yield on glucose substrate of 0.33 mol/mol.
Conclusion
An SA-producing E. coli strain that carries neither a plasmid nor an antibiotic marker was constructed by triclosan-induced chromosomal evolution. We present the first demonstration that increasing NADPH availability by overexpressing the pntAB or nadK genes significantly enhances SA production.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-21
PMCID: PMC3923554  PMID: 24512078
Shikimic acid; Escherichia coli; Chemically induced chromosomal evolution; NADPH; Transhydrogenase; NAD kinase
12.  Microbial production of sabinene—a new terpene-based precursor of advanced biofuel 
Background
Sabinene, one kind of monoterpene, accumulated limitedly in natural organisms, is being explored as a potential component for the next generation of aircraft fuels. And demand for advanced fuels impels us to develop biosynthetic routes for the production of sabinene from renewable sugar.
Results
In this study, sabinene was significantly produced by assembling a biosynthetic pathway using the methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) or heterologous mevalonate (MVA) pathway combining the GPP and sabinene synthase genes in an engineered Escherichia coli strain. Subsequently, the culture medium and process conditions were optimized to enhance sabinene production with a maximum titer of 82.18 mg/L. Finally, the fed-batch fermentation of sabinene was evaluated using the optimized culture medium and process conditions, which reached a maximum concentration of 2.65 g/L with an average productivity of 0.018 g h-1 g-1 dry cells, and the conversion efficiency of glycerol to sabinene (gram to gram) reached 3.49%.
Conclusions
This is the first report of microbial synthesis of sabinene using an engineered E. coli strain with the renewable carbon source as feedstock. Therefore, a green and sustainable production strategy has been established for sabinene.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-20
PMCID: PMC3923588  PMID: 24512040
Sabinene; Geranyl diphosphate synthase; Sabinene synthase; Escherichia coli
13.  Annual acknowledgement of manuscript reviewers 
Contributing reviewers
The Editors of Microbial Cell Factories would like to thank all our Reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 12 (2013).
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-18
PMCID: PMC3917372
14.  Autodisplay for the co-expression of lipase and foldase on the surface of E. coli: washing with designer bugs 
Background
Lipases including the lipase from Burkholderia cepacia are in a main focus in biotechnology research since many years because of their manifold possibilities for application in industrial processes. The application of Burkholderia cepacia lipase for these processes appears complicated because of the need for support by a chaperone, the lipase specific foldase. Purification and reconstitution protocols therefore interfere with an economic implementation of such enzymes in industry. Autodisplay is a convenient method to express a variety of passenger proteins on the surface of E. coli. This method makes subsequent purification steps to obtain the protein of interest unnecessary. If enzymes are used as passengers, the corresponding cells can simply be applied as whole cell biocatalysts. Furthermore, enzymes surface displayed in this manner often acquire stabilization by anchoring within the outer membrane of E. coli.
Results
The lipase and its chaperone foldase from B. cepacia were co-expressed on the surface of E. coli via autodisplay. The whole cell biocatalyst obtained thereby exhibited an enzymatic activity of 2.73 mU mL-1 towards the substrate p-nitrophenyl palmitate when applied in an OD578 =1. Outer membrane fractions prepared from the same culture volume showed a lipase activity of 4.01 mU mL-1. The lipase-whole cell biocatalyst as well as outer membrane preparations thereof were used in a standardized laundry test, usually adopted to determine the power of washing agents. In this test, the lipase whole cell biocatalyst and the membrane preparation derived thereof exhibited the same lipolytic activity as the purified lipase from B. cepacia and a lipase preparation which is already applied in commercial washing agents.
Conclusions
Co-expression of both the lipase and its chaperone foldase on the surface of E. coli yields a lipid degrading whole cell biocatalyst. Therefore the chaperone supported folding process, absolutely required for the lipolytic activity appears not to be hindered by surface display. Furthermore, the cells and the membrane preparations appeared to be stable enough to endure a European standard laundry test and show efficient fat removal properties herein.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-19
PMCID: PMC3910678  PMID: 24476025
15.  The myxobacterial metabolite ratjadone A inhibits HIV infection by blocking the Rev/CRM1-mediated nuclear export pathway 
Background
The nuclear export of unspliced and partially spliced HIV-1 mRNA is mediated by the recognition of a leucine-rich nuclear export signal (NES) in the HIV Rev protein by the host protein CRM1/Exportin1. This makes the CRM1-Rev complex an attractive target for the development of new antiviral drugs. Here we tested the anti-HIV efficacy of ratjadone A, a CRM1 inhibitor derived from myxobacteria.
Results
Ratjadone A inhibits HIV infection in vitro in a dose-dependent manner with EC50 values at the nanomolar range. The inhibitory effect of ratjadone A occurs around 12 hours post-infection and is specific for the Rev/CRM1-mediated nuclear export pathway. By using a drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS) assay we could demonstrate that ratjadone A interferes with the formation of the CRM1-Rev-NES complex by binding to CRM1 but not to Rev.
Conclusion
Ratjadone A exhibits strong anti-HIV activity but low selectivity due to toxic effects. Although this limits its potential use as a therapeutic drug, further studies with derivatives of ratjadones might help to overcome these difficulties in the future.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-17
PMCID: PMC3910686  PMID: 24475978
Ratjadone; Myxobacteria; HIV; Rev; Host factor; CRM1; Nuclear export
16.  Transcription analysis of recombinant industrial and laboratory Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains reveals the molecular basis for fermentation of glucose and xylose 
Background
There has been much research on the bioconversion of xylose found in lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol by genetically engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, the rate of ethanol production from xylose in these xylose-utilizing yeast strains is quite low compared to their glucose fermentation. In this study, two diploid xylose-utilizing S. cerevisiae strains, the industrial strain MA-R4 and the laboratory strain MA-B4, were employed to investigate the differences between anaerobic fermentation of xylose and glucose, and general differences between recombinant yeast strains, through genome-wide transcription analysis.
Results
In MA-R4, many genes related to ergosterol biosynthesis were expressed more highly with glucose than with xylose. Additionally, these ergosterol-related genes had higher transcript levels in MA-R4 than in MA-B4 during glucose fermentation. During xylose fermentation, several genes related to central metabolic pathways that typically increase during growth on non-fermentable carbon sources were expressed at higher levels in both strains. Xylose did not fully repress the genes encoding enzymes of the tricarboxylic acid and respiratory pathways, even under anaerobic conditions. In addition, several genes involved in spore wall metabolism and the uptake of ammonium, which are closely related to the starvation response, and many stress-responsive genes mediated by Msn2/4p, as well as trehalose synthase genes, increased in expression when fermenting with xylose, irrespective of the yeast strain. We further observed that transcript levels of genes involved in xylose metabolism, membrane transport functions, and ATP synthesis were higher in MA-R4 than in MA-B4 when strains were fermented with glucose or xylose.
Conclusions
Our transcriptomic approach revealed the molecular events underlying the response to xylose or glucose and differences between MA-R4 and MA-B4. Xylose-utilizing S. cerevisiae strains may recognize xylose as a non-fermentable carbon source, which induces a starvation response and adaptation to oxidative stress, resulting in the increased expression of stress-response genes.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-16
PMCID: PMC3917370  PMID: 24467867
Transcriptomics; DNA microarray; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Xylose fermentation; Ethanol production
17.  Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD1 as a factory to synthesize alkali-labile ChiA74∆sp chitinase inclusions, Cry crystals and spores for applied use 
Background
The endochitinase ChiA74 is a soluble secreted enzyme produced by Bacillus thuringiensis that synergizes the entomotoxigenecity of Cry proteins that accumulate as intracellular crystalline inclusion during sporulation. The purpose of this study was to produce alkaline-soluble ChiA74∆sp inclusions in B. thuringiensis, and to determine its effect on Cry crystal production, sporulation and toxicity to an important agronomical insect, Manduca sexta. To this end we deleted the secretion signal peptide-coding sequence of chiA74 (i.e. chiA74∆sp) and expressed it under its native promoter (pEHchiA74∆sp) or strong chimeric sporulation-dependent cytA-p/STAB-SD promoter (pEBchiA74∆sp) in Escherichia coli, acrystalliferous B. thuringiensis (4Q7) and B. thuringiensis HD1.
Results
Based on mRNA analyses, up to ~9-fold increase in expression of chiA74∆sp was observed using the cytA-p/STAB-SD promoter. ChiA74∆sp (~70 kDa) formed intracellular inclusions that frequently accumulated at the poles of cells. ChiA74∆sp inclusions were dissolved in alkali and reducing conditions, similar to Cry crystals, and retained its activity in a wide range of pH (5 to 9), but showed a drastic reduction (~70%) at pH 10. Chitinase activity of E. coli-pEHchiA74∆sp was ~150 mU/mL, and in E. coli-pEBchiA74∆sp, 250 mU/mL. 4Q7-pEBchiA74∆sp and 4Q7-pEHchiA74∆sp had activities of ~127 mU/mL and ~41 mU/mL, respectively. The endochitinase activity in HD1-pEBchiA74∆sp increased 42x when compared to parental HD1 strain. HD1-pEBchiA74∆sp and HD1 harbored typical bipyramidal Cry inclusions, but crystals in the recombinant were ~30% smaller. Additionally, a 3x increase in the number of viable spores was observed in cultures of the recombinant strain when compared to HD1. Bioassays against first instar larvae of M. sexta with spore-crystals of HD1 or spore-crystal-ChiA74∆sp inclusions of HD1-pEBchiA74∆sp showed LC50s of 67.30 ng/cm2 and 41.45 ng/cm2, respectively.
Conclusions
Alkali-labile ChiA74∆sp inclusion bodies can be synthesized in E. coli and B. thuringiensis strains. We demonstrated for the first time the applied utility of synthesis of ChiA74∆sp inclusions, Cry crystals and spores in the same sporangium of HD1, a strain used successfully worldwide to control economically significant lepidopteran pests of agriculture. Our findings will allow to us develop strategies to modify expression of ChiA74∆sp while maximizing Cry crystal synthesis in commercial strains of B. thuringiensis.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-15
PMCID: PMC3903433  PMID: 24460864
Bacillus thuringiensis; Endochitinase ChiA74; Cry proteins; Inclusion bodies
18.  A comparative study: the impact of different lipid extraction methods on current microalgal lipid research 
Microalgae cells have the potential to rapidly accumulate lipids, such as triacylglycerides that contain fatty acids important for high value fatty acids (e.g., EPA and DHA) and/or biodiesel production. However, lipid extraction methods for microalgae cells are not well established, and there is currently no standard extraction method for the determination of the fatty acid content of microalgae. This has caused a few problems in microlagal biofuel research due to the bias derived from different extraction methods. Therefore, this study used several extraction methods for fatty acid analysis on marine microalga Tetraselmis sp. M8, aiming to assess the potential impact of different extractions on current microalgal lipid research. These methods included classical Bligh & Dyer lipid extraction, two other chemical extractions using different solvents and sonication, direct saponification and supercritical CO2 extraction. Soxhlet-based extraction was used to weigh out the importance of solvent polarity in the algal oil extraction. Coupled with GC/MS, a Thermogravimetric Analyser was used to improve the quantification of microalgal lipid extractions. Among these extractions, significant differences were observed in both, extract yield and fatty acid composition. The supercritical extraction technique stood out most for effective extraction of microalgal lipids, especially for long chain unsaturated fatty acids. The results highlight the necessity for comparative analyses of microalgae fatty acids and careful choice and validation of analytical methodology in microalgal lipid research.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-14
PMCID: PMC3926349  PMID: 24456581
Microalgal oil; Fatty acid; Extract yield; Solvent polarity; Supercritical CO2; Lipid profile
19.  Development of a genetic system for the deep-sea psychrophilic bacterium Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 
Background
Pseudoalteromonas species are a group of marine gammaproteobacteria frequently found in deep-sea sediments, which may play important roles in deep-sea sediment ecosystem. Although genome sequence analysis of Pseudoalteromonas has revealed some specific features associated with adaptation to the extreme deep-sea environment, it is still difficult to study how Pseudoalteromonas adapt to the deep-sea environment due to the lack of a genetic manipulation system. The aim of this study is to develop a genetic system in the deep-sea sedimentary bacterium Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913, making it possible to perform gene mutation by homologous recombination.
Results
The sensitivity of Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 to antibiotic was investigated and the erythromycin resistance gene was chosen as the selective marker. A shuttle vector pOriT-4Em was constructed and transferred into Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 through intergeneric conjugation with an efficiency of 1.8 × 10-3, which is high enough to perform the gene knockout assay. A suicide vector pMT was constructed using pOriT-4Em as the bone vector and sacB gene as the counterselective marker. The epsT gene encoding the UDP-glucose lipid carrier transferase was selected as the target gene for inactivation by in-frame deletion. The epsT was in-frame deleted using a two-step integration–segregation strategy after transferring the suicide vector pMT into Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913. The ΔepsT mutant showed approximately 73% decrease in the yield of exopolysaccharides, indicating that epsT is an important gene involved in the EPS production of SM9913.
Conclusions
A conjugal transfer system was constructed in Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 with a wide temperature range for selection and a high transfer efficiency, which will lay the foundation of genetic manipulation in this strain. The epsT gene of SM9913 was successfully deleted with no selective marker left in the chromosome of the host, which thus make it possible to knock out other genes in the same host. The construction of a gene knockout system for Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913 will contribute to the understanding of the molecular mechanism of how Pseudoalteromonas adapt to the deep-sea environment.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-13
PMCID: PMC3930924  PMID: 24450434
20.  Biotechnological production of carotenoids by yeasts: an overview 
Nowadays, carotenoids are valuable molecules in different industries such as chemical, pharmaceutical, poultry, food and cosmetics. These pigments not only can act as vitamin A precursors, but also they have coloring and antioxidant properties, which have attracted the attention of the industries and researchers. The carotenoid production through chemical synthesis or extraction from plants is limited by low yields that results in high production costs. This leads to research of microbial production of carotenoids, as an alternative that has shown better yields than other aforementioned. In addition, the microbial production of carotenoids could be a better option about costs, looking for alternatives like the use of low-cost substrates as agro-industrials wastes. Yeasts have demonstrated to be carotenoid producer showing an important growing capacity in several agro-industrial wastes producing high levels of carotenoids. Agro-industrial wastes provide carbon and nitrogen source necessary, and others elements to carry out the microbial metabolism diminishing the production costs and avoiding pollution from these agro-industrial wastes to the environmental. Herein, we discuss the general and applied concepts regarding yeasts carotenoid production and the factors influencing carotenogenesis using agro-industrial wastes as low-cost substrates.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-12
PMCID: PMC3922794  PMID: 24443802
Pigments; Yeast; Agroindustrial wastes
21.  Expression of the Aspergillus terreus itaconic acid biosynthesis cluster in Aspergillus niger 
Background
Aspergillus terreus is a natural producer of itaconic acid and is currently used to produce itaconic acid on an industrial scale. The metabolic process for itaconic acid biosynthesis is very similar to the production of citric acid in Aspergillus niger. However, a key enzyme in A. niger, cis-aconitate decarboxylase, is missing. The introduction of the A. terreus cadA gene in A. niger exploits the high level of citric acid production (over 200 g per liter) and theoretically can lead to production levels of over 135 g per liter of itaconic acid in A. niger. Given the potential for higher production levels in A. niger, production of itaconic acid in this host was investigated.
Results
Expression of Aspergillus terreus cis-aconitate decarboxylase in Aspergillus niger resulted in the production of a low concentration (0.05 g/L) of itaconic acid. Overexpression of codon-optimized genes for cis-aconitate decarboxylase, a mitochondrial transporter and a plasma membrane transporter in an oxaloacetate hydrolase and glucose oxidase deficient A. niger strain led to highly increased yields and itaconic acid production titers. At these higher production titers, the effect of the mitochondrial and plasma membrane transporters was much more pronounced, with levels being 5–8 times higher than previously described.
Conclusions
Itaconic acid can be produced in A. niger by the introduction of the A. terreus cis-aconitate decarboxylase encoding cadA gene. This results in a low itaconic acid production level, which can be increased by codon-optimization of the cadA gene for A. niger. A second crucial requirement for efficient production of itaconic acid is the expression of the A. terreus mttA gene, encoding a putative mitochondrial transporter. Expression of this transporter results in a twenty-fold increase in the secretion of itaconic acid. Expression of the A. terreus itaconic acid cluster consisting of the cadA gene, the mttA gene and the mfsA gene results in A. niger strains that produce over twenty five-fold higher levels of itaconic acid and show a twenty-fold increase in yield compared to a strain expressing only CadA.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-11
PMCID: PMC3898256  PMID: 24438100
Aspergillus niger; Aspergillus terreus; cis-aconitate decarboxylase cadA; Mitochondrial transporter mttA; Plasma membrane transporter mfsA; Itaconic acid
22.  Rational selection and engineering of exogenous principal sigma factor (σHrdB) to increase teicoplanin production in an industrial strain of Actinoplanes teichomyceticus 
Background
Transcriptional engineering has presented a strong ability of phenotypic improvement in microorganisms. However, it could not be directly applied to Actinoplanes teichomyceticus L-27 because of the paucity of endogenous transcription factors in the strain. In this study, exogenous transcription factors were rationally selected and transcriptional engineering was carried out to increase the productivity of teicoplanin in L-27.
Results
It was illuminated that the σHrdB molecules shared strong similarity of amino acid sequences among some genera of actinomycetes. Combining this advantage with the ability of transcriptional engineering, exogenous sigma factor σHrdB molecules were rationally selected and engineered to improve L-27. hrdB genes from Actinoplanes missouriensis 431, Micromonospora aurantiaca ATCC 27029 and Salinispora arenicola CNS-205 were selected based on molecular evolutionary analysis. Random mutagenesis, DNA shuffling and point mutation were subsequently performed to generate diversified mutants. A recombinant was identified through screening program, yielding 5.3 mg/ml of teicoplanin, over 2-fold compared to that of L-27. More significantly, the engineered strain presented a good performance in 500-l pilot scale fermentation, which meant its valuable potential application in industry.
Conclusions
Through rational selection and engineering of exogenous transcriptional factor, we have extended the application of transcriptional engineering. To our knowledge, it is the first time to focus on the related issue. In addition, possessing the advantage of efficient metabolic perturbation in transcription level, this strategy could be useful in analyzing metabolic and physiological mechanisms of strains, especially those with the only information on taxonomy.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-10
PMCID: PMC3897980  PMID: 24428890
Actinoplanes teichomyceticus; Teicoplanin; Metabolic perturbation; Exogenous principal sigma factor
24.  Expression of single-chain variable fragments fused with the Fc-region of rabbit IgG in Leishmania tarentolae 
Background
In recent years the generation of antibodies by recombinant methods, such as phage display technology, has increased the speed by which antibodies can be obtained. However, in some cases when recombinant antibodies have to be validated, expression in E. coli can be problematic. This primarily occurs when codon usage or protein folding of specific antibody fragments is incompatible with the E. coli translation and folding machinery, for instance when recombinant antibody formats that include the Fc-region are needed. In such cases other expression systems can be used, including the protozoan parasite Leishmania tarentolae (L. tarentolae). This novel host for recombinant protein expression has recently shown promising properties for the expression of single-chain antibody fragments. We have utilised the L. tarentolae T7-TR system to achieve expression and secretion of two scFvs fused to the Fc-region of rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG).
Results
Based on the commercial vector pLEXSY_IE-blecherry4 (Jena Bioscience; Cat. No. EGE-255), we generated a vector containing the Fragment Crystallisable (Fc) region of rabbit IgG allowing insertions of single chain antibody fragments (scFvs) in frame via Ncol/Notl cloning (pMJ_LEXSY-rFc). For the expression of rabbit Fc-fusion scFvs (scFv-rFc) we cloned two scFvs binding to human vimentin (LOB7 scFv) and murine laminin (A10 scFv) respectively, into the modified vector. The LOB7-rFc and A10-rFc fusions expressed at levels up to 2.95 mg/L in L. tarentolae T7-TR. Both scFv-rFcs were purified from the culture supernatants using protein A affinity chromatography. Additionally, we expressed three different scFvs without the rFc regions using a similar expression cassette, obtaining yields up to 1.00 mg/L.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this is the first time that antibody fragments with intact Fc-region of immunoglobulin have been produced in L. tarentolae. Using the plasmid pMJ_LEXSY-rFc, L. tarentolae T7-TR can be applied as an efficient tool for expression of rFc fusion antibody fragments, allowing easy purification from the growth medium. This system provides an alternative in cases where antibody constructs express poorly in standard prokaryotic systems. Furthermore, in cases where bivalent Fc-fused antibody constructs are needed, using L. tarentolae for expression provides an efficient alternative to mammalian expression.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-9
PMCID: PMC3917567  PMID: 24428896
Recombinant antibodies; Leishmania tarentolae; Protein expression
25.  Modified ‘one amino acid-one codon’ engineering of high GC content TaqII-coding gene from thermophilic Thermus aquaticus results in radical expression increase 
Background
An industrial approach to protein production demands maximization of cloned gene expression, balanced with the recombinant host’s viability. Expression of toxic genes from thermophiles poses particular difficulties due to high GC content, mRNA secondary structures, rare codon usage and impairing the host’s coding plasmid replication.
TaqII belongs to a family of bifunctional enzymes, which are a fusion of the restriction endonuclease (REase) and methyltransferase (MTase) activities in a single polypeptide. The family contains thermostable REases with distinct specificities: TspGWI, TaqII, Tth111II/TthHB27I, TspDTI and TsoI and a few enzymes found in mesophiles. While not being isoschizomers, the enzymes exhibit amino acid (aa) sequence homologies, having molecular sizes of ~120 kDa share common modular architecture, resemble Type-I enzymes, cleave DNA 11/9 nt from the recognition sites, their activity is affected by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM).
Results
We describe the taqIIRM gene design, cloning and expression of the prototype TaqII. The enzyme amount in natural hosts is extremely low. To improve expression of the taqIIRM gene in Escherichia coli (E. coli), we designed and cloned a fully synthetic, low GC content, low mRNA secondary structure taqIIRM, codon-optimized gene under a bacteriophage lambda (λ) P R promoter. Codon usage based on a modified ‘one amino acid–one codon’ strategy, weighted towards low GC content codons, resulted in approximately 10-fold higher expression of the synthetic gene. 718 codons of total 1105 were changed, comprising 65% of the taqIIRM gene. The reason for we choose a less effective strategy rather than a resulting in high expression yields ‘codon randomization’ strategy, was intentional, sub-optimal TaqII in vivo production, in order to decrease the high ‘toxicity’ of the REase-MTase protein.
Conclusions
Recombinant wt and synthetic taqIIRM gene were cloned and expressed in E. coli. The modified ‘one amino acid–one codon’ method tuned for thermophile-coded genes was applied to obtain overexpression of the ‘toxic’ taqIIRM gene. The method appears suited for industrial production of thermostable ‘toxic’ enzymes in E. coli. This novel variant of the method biased toward increasing a gene’s AT content may provide economic benefits for industrial applications.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-7
PMCID: PMC3893498  PMID: 24410856

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