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1.  Enhanced production of gamma-aminobutyrate (GABA) in recombinant Corynebacterium glutamicum by expressing glutamate decarboxylase active in expanded pH range 
Gamma-aminobutylate (GABA) is an important chemical in pharmacetucal field and chemical industry. GABA has mostly been produced in lactic acid bacteria by adding L-glutamate to the culture medium since L-glutamate can be converted into GABA by inherent L-glutamate decarboxylase. Recently, GABA has gained much attention for the application as a major building block for the synthesis of 2-pyrrolidone and biodegradable polyamide nylon 4, which opens its application area in the industrial biotechnology. Therefore, Corynebacterium glutamicum, the major L-glutamate producing microorganism, has been engineered to achieve direct fermentative production of GABA from glucose, but their productivity was rather low.
Recombinant C. glutamicum strains were developed for enhanced production of GABA from glucose by expressing Escherichia coli glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) mutant, which is active in expanded pH range. Synthetic PH36, PI16, and PL26 promoters, which have different promoter strengths in C. glutamicum, were examined for the expression of E. coli GAD mutant. C. glutamicum expressing E. coli GAD mutant under the strong PH36 promoter could produce GABA to the concentration of 5.89 ± 0.35 g/L in GP1 medium at pH 7.0, which is 17-fold higher than that obtained by C. glutamicum expressing wild-type E. coli GAD in the same condition (0.34 ± 0.26 g/L). Fed-bath culture of C. glutamicum expressing E. coli GAD mutant in GP1 medium containing 50 μg/L of biotin at pH 6, culture condition of which was optimized in flask cultures, resulted in the highest GABA concentration of 38.6 ± 0.85 g/L with the productivity of 0.536 g/L/h.
Recombinant C. glutamicum strains developed in this study should be useful for the direct fermentative production of GABA from glucose, which allows us to achieve enhanced production of GABA suitable for its application area in the industrial biotechnology.
PMCID: PMC4335662
Corynebacterium glutamicum; Gamma-aminobutyrate; Glutamate; Glutamate decarboxylase; Biotin; Fed-batch cultivation
2.  Improved production of sublancin via introduction of three characteristic promoters into operon clusters responsible for this novel distinct glycopeptide biosynthesis 
Sublancin is a novel and distinct antimicrobial glycopeptide that can be used as an alternative to conventional antibiotics. The reported production of sublancin by Bacillus subtilis 168 is poor because transcriptional regulatory circuit of sunA, a gene that encodes presublancin, is complex and difficult to control.
A strong inducible and easy to control vegetative σA promoter of Pglv was introduced to replace that of sunA in situ in B. subtilis 1A747 [SPβc, prototroph, the derivative of B. subtilis 168 (trpC2)]. Meanwhile, other two strong promoters of P43 and PluxS were respectively placed before sunI and sunT–bdbA–sunS–bdbB, encoding five functional proteins that involved in the biosynthesis of mature sublancin. 642 mg sublancin was obtained from 1 L culture supernatant of recombinant B. subtilis 1A747 strains. Analysises of electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and circular dichroism spectrum showed that mature sublancin had a molecular weight of 3877.642 Da and displayed a α–helical conformation that are consistent with reported results. In addition, the mature sublancin was proved to be a potent antimicrobial glycopeptide with broad activity spectrum, moderate cytotoxicity and good conditional stability under high temperature, extreme pH and protease–rich environments, thus showing its potential for clinical applications.
Our present findings suggest that recombinant B. subtilis 1A747 strains can effectively and efficiently biosynthesize mature sublancin. The replacement of native promoters provides an extra method for production improvement of some other complicated peptides such as nisin and subtilin.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0201-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4336743
Sublancin; Glycopeptide; Recombinant B. subtilis 1A747; Improved production; Transcriptional regulatory circuit
3.  Engineering Corynebacterium crenatum to produce higher alcohols for biofuel using hydrolysates of duckweed (Landoltia punctata) as feedstock 
Early trials have demonstrated great potential for the use of duckweed (family Lemnaceae) as the next generation of energy plants for the production of biofuels. Achieving this technological advance demands research to develop novel bioengineering microorganisms that can ferment duckweed feedstock to produce higher alcohols. In this study, we used relevant genes to transfer five metabolic pathways of isoleucine, leucine and valine from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae into the bioengineered microorganism Corynebacterium crenatum. Experimental results showed that the bioengineered strain was able to produce 1026.61 mg/L of 2-methyl-1-butanol by fermenting glucose, compared to 981.79 mg/L from the acid hydrolysates of duckweed. The highest isobutanol yields achieved were 1264.63 mg/L from glucose and 1154.83 mg/L from duckweed, and the corresponding highest yields of 3-methyl-1-butanol were 748.35 and 684.79 mg/L. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of using bioengineered C. crenatum as a platform to construct a bacterial strain that is capable of producing higher alcohols. We have also shown the promise of using duckweed as the basis for developing higher alcohols, illustrating that this group of plants represents an ideal fermentation substrate that can be considered the next generation of alternative energy feedstocks.
PMCID: PMC4324788
Corynebacterium crenatum; Bioengineering; Duckweed; Higher alcohols
4.  Novel bioemulsifier produced by a Paenibacillus strain isolated from crude oil 
Surface active compounds produced by microorganisms are attracting a pronounced interest due to their potential advantages over their synthetic counterparts, and to the fact that they could replace some of the synthetics in many environmental and industrial applications.
Bioemulsifier production by a Paenibacillus sp. strain isolated from crude oil was studied. The bioemulsifier was produced using sucrose with and without adding hydrocarbons (paraffin or crude oil) under aerobic and anaerobic conditions at 40°C. It formed stable emulsions with several hydrocarbons and its emulsifying ability was not affected by exposure to high salinities (up to 300 g/l), high temperatures (100°C-121°C) or a wide range of pH values (2–13). In addition, it presented low toxicity and high biodegradability when compared with chemical surfactants. A preliminary chemical characterization by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), proton and carbon nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR and 13C CP-MAS NMR) and size exclusion chromatography indicated that the bioemulsifier is a low molecular weight oligosaccharide-lipid complex.
The production of a low molecular weight bioemulsifier by a novel Paenibacillus strain isolated from crude oil was reported. To the best of our knowledge, bioemulsifier production by Paenibacillus strains has not been previously reported. The features of this novel bioemulsifier make it an interesting biotechnological product for many environmental and industrial applications.
Graphical AbstractNovel bioemulsifier from Paenibacillus sp.
PMCID: PMC4318442  PMID: 25636532
Surface active compound; Bioemulsifier; Paenibacillus sp; Bioremediation
5.  Saccharomyces cerevisiae transcriptional reprograming due to bacterial contamination during industrial scale bioethanol production 
The bioethanol production system used in Brazil is based on the fermentation of sucrose from sugarcane feedstock by highly adapted strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Bacterial contaminants present in the distillery environment often produce yeast-bacteria cellular co-aggregation particles that resemble yeast-yeast cell adhesion (flocculation). The formation of such particles is undesirable because it slows the fermentation kinetics and reduces the overall bioethanol yield.
In this study, we investigated the molecular physiology of one of the main S. cerevisiae strains used in Brazilian bioethanol production, PE-2, under two contrasting conditions: typical fermentation, when most yeast cells are in suspension, and co-aggregated fermentation. The transcriptional profile of PE-2 was assessed by RNA-seq during industrial scale fed-batch fermentation. Comparative analysis between the two conditions revealed transcriptional profiles that were differentiated primarily by a deep gene repression in the co-aggregated samples. The data also indicated that Lactobacillus fermentum was likely the main bacterial species responsible for cellular co-aggregation and for the high levels of organic acids detected in the samples.
Here, we report the high-resolution gene expression profiling of strain PE-2 during industrial-scale fermentations and the transcriptional reprograming observed under co-aggregation conditions. This dataset constitutes an important resource that can provide support for further development of this key yeast biocatalyst.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0196-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4318157  PMID: 25633848
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Bioethanol; Co-aggregation; Transcriptome; RNA-seq
6.  Exchange of single amino acids at different positions of a recombinant protein affects metabolic burden in Escherichia coli 
Escherichia coli is commonly used in academia and industry for expressing recombinant proteins because of its well-characterized molecular genetics and the availability of numerous expression vectors and strains. One important issue during recombinant protein production is the so-called ‘metabolic burden’: the material and energy normally reserved for microbial metabolism which is sapped from the bacterium to produce the recombinant protein. This material and energy drain harms biomass formation and modifies respiration. To the best of our knowledge, no research has investigated so far whether a single amino acid exchange in a recombinant protein affects the metabolic burden phenomenon. Thus, in this study, 15 E. coli BL21(DE3) clones expressing either the fusion tags, a recombinant wild type lipase, or 13 different lipase variants are investigated to quantitatively analyze the respective effects of single amino acid exchanges at different positions on respiration, biomass and protein production of each clone. Therefore, two small-scale online monitoring systems, namely a Respiration Activity MOnitoring System (RAMOS) and a microtiter plate based cultivation system (BioLector) are applied.
Upon expression of all enzyme variants, strong variations were found in the Oxygen Transfer Rate (OTR), biomass and protein (lipase) production of the respective E. coli clones. Two distinct patterns of respiration behavior were observed and, so, the clones could be classified into two groups (Type A and B). Potential factors to explain these patterns were evaluated (e.g. plasmid copy number, inclusion body formation). However, no decisive factor could yet be identified. Five distinct cultivation phases could be determined from OTR curves which give real-time information about carbon source consumption, biomass and protein production. In general, it was found that the quantity of product increased with the duration of active respiration.
This work demonstrates that single amino acid exchanges in a recombinant protein influence the metabolic burden during protein production. The small-scale online monitoring devices RAMOS and BioLector enable the real-time detection of even smallest differences in respiration behavior, biomass and protein production in the E. coli clones investigated. Hence, this study underscores the importance of parallel online monitoring systems to unveil the relevance of single amino acid exchanges for the recombinant protein production.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0191-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4307990  PMID: 25612616
Recombinant protein; Metabolic burden; Escherichia coli; Bacillus subtilis lipase A (BSLA); Amino acid exchange; Metabolic activity; Online monitoring; Oxygen Transfer Rate (OTR); Respiration Activity MOnitoring System (RAMOS); BioLector
7.  In vivo production of a novel glycoconjugate vaccine against Shigella flexneri 2a in recombinant Escherichia coli: identification of stimulating factors for in vivo glycosylation 
Glycoconjugated vaccines composed of polysaccharide antigens covalently linked to immunogenic carrier proteins have proved to belong to the most effective and safest vaccines for combating bacterial pathogens. The functional transfer of the N-glycosylation machinery from Campylobacter jejuni to the standard prokaryotic host Escherichia coli established a novel bioconjugation methodology termed bacterial glycoengineering.
In this study, we report on the production of a new recombinant glycoconjugate vaccine against Shigella flexneri 2a representing the major serotype for global outbreaks of shigellosis. We demonstrate that S. flexneri 2a O-polysaccharides can be transferred to a detoxified variant of Pseudomonas aeruginosa carrier protein exotoxin A (EPA) by the C. jejuni oligosaccharyltransferase PglB, resulting in glycosylated EPA-2a. Moreover, we optimized the in vivo production of this novel vaccine by identification and quantitative analysis of critical process parameters for glycoprotein synthesis. It was found that sequential induction of oligosaccharyltransferase PglB and carrier protein EPA increased the specific productivity of EPA-2a by a factor of 1.6. Furthermore, by the addition of 10 g/L of the monosaccharide N-acetylglucosamine during induction, glycoconjugate vaccine yield was boosted up to 3.1-fold. The optimum concentration of Mg2+ ions for N-glycan transfer was determined to be 10 mM. Finally, optimized parameters were transferred to high cell density cultures with a 46-fold increase of overall yield of glycoconjugate compared to the one in initial shake flask production.
The present study is the first attempt to identify stimulating parameters for improved productivity of S. flexneri 2a bioconjugates. Optimization of glycosylation efficiency will ultimately foster the transfer of lab-scale expression to a cost-effective in vivo production process for a glycoconjugate vaccine against S. flexneri 2a in E. coli. This study is an important step towards this goal and provides a starting point for further optimization studies.
PMCID: PMC4308876  PMID: 25612741
Glycoconjugate vaccine; Shigella flexneri 2a; Process optimization; High cell density culture; Recombinant E. coli
8.  Development of an efficient conjugation-based genetic manipulation system for Pseudoalteromonas 
Pseudoalteromonas is commonly found throughout the world’s oceans, and has gained increased attention due to the ecological and biological significance. Although over fifty Pseudoalteromonas genomes have been sequenced with an aim to explore the adaptive strategies in different habitats, in vivo studies are hampered by the lack of effective genetic manipulation systems for most strains in this genus. Here, nine Pseudoalteromonas strains isolated from different habitats were selected and used as representative strains to develop a universal genetic manipulation system. Erythromycin and chloramphenicol resistance were chosen as selection markers based on antibiotics resistance test of the nine strains. A conjugation protocol based on the RP4 conjugative machinery in E. coli WM3064 was developed to overcome current limitations of genetic manipulation in Pseudoalteromonas. Two mobilizable gene expression shuttle vectors (pWD2-oriT and pWD2Ery-oriT) were constructed, and conjugation efficiency of pWD2-oriT from E. coli to the nine Pseudoalteromonas strains ranged from 10−6 to 10−3 transconjugants per recipient cells. Two suicide vectors, pK18mobsacB-Cm and pK18mobsacB-Ery (with sacB for counter-selection), were constructed for gene knockout. To verify the feasibility of this system, we selected gene or operon that may lead to phenotypic change once disrupted as targets to facilitate in vivo functional confirmation. Successful deletions of two genes related to prodigiosin biosynthesis (pigMK) in P. rubra DSM 6842, one biofilm related gene (bsmA) in P. sp. SM9913, one gene related to melanin hyperproduction (hmgA) in P. lipolytica SCSIO 04301 and two flagella-related genes (fliF and fliG) in P. sp. SCSIO 11900 were verified, respectively. In addition, complementation of hmgA using shuttle vector pWD2-oriT was rescued the phenotype caused by deletion of chromosomal copy of hmgA in P. lipolytica SCSIO 04301. Taken together, we demonstrate that the vectors and the conjugative protocol developed here have potential to use in various Pseudoalteromonas strains.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0194-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4318363  PMID: 25612661
Pseudoalteromonas; Conjugation; Genetic manipulation; Marine bacteria
9.  Role of L-alanine for redox self-sufficient amination of alcohols 
In white biotechnology biocatalysis represents a key technology for chemical functionalization of non-natural compounds. The plasmid-born overproduction of an alcohol dehydrogenase, an L-alanine-dependent transaminase and an alanine dehydrogenase allows for redox self-sufficient amination of alcohols in whole cell biotransformation. Here, conditions to optimize the whole cell biocatalyst presented in (Bioorg Med Chem 22:5578–5585, 2014), and the role of L-alanine for efficient amine functionalization of 1,10-decanediol to 1,10-diaminodecane were analyzed.
The enzymes of the cascade for amine functionalization of alcohols were characterized in vitro to find optimal conditions for an efficient process. Transaminase from Chromobacterium violaceum, TaCv, showed three-fold higher catalytic efficiency than transaminase from Vibrio fluvialis, TaVf, and improved production at 37°C. At 42°C, TaCv was more active, which matched thermostable alcohol dehydrogenase and alanine dehydrogenase and improved the 1,10-diaminodecane production rate four-fold. To study the role of L-alanine in the whole cell biotransformation, the L-alanine concentration was varied and 1,10.diaminodecane formation tested with constant 10 mM 1,10- decanediol and 100 mM NH4Cl. Only 5.6% diamine product were observed without added L-alanine. L-alanine concentrations equimolar to that of the alcohol enabled for 94% product formation but higher L-alanine concentrations allowed for 100% product formation. L-alanine was consumed by the E. coli biocatalyst, presumably due to pyruvate catabolism since up to 16 mM acetate accumulated. Biotransformation employing E. coli strain YYC202/pTrc99a-ald-adh-taCv, which is unable to catabolize pyruvate, resulted in conversion with a selectivity of 42 mol-%. Biotransformation with E. coli strains only lacking pyruvate oxidase PoxB showed similar reduced amination of 1,10-decanediol indicating that oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate to acetate by PoxB is primarily responsible for pyruvate catabolism during redox self-sufficient amination of alcohols using this whole cell biocatalyst.
The replacement of the transaminase TaVf by TaCv, which showed higher activity at 42°C, in the artificial operon ald-adh-ta improved amination of alcohols in whole cell biotransformation. The addition of L-alanine, which was consumed by E. coli via pyruvate catabolism, was required for 100% product formation possibly by providing maintenance energy. Metabolic engineering revealed that pyruvate catabolism occurred primarily via oxidative decarboxylation to acetate by PoxB under the chosen biotranformation conditions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0189-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4336473  PMID: 25612558
Redox self-sufficient amination; Whole cell biotransformation; Escherichia coli; Transaminase; Chromobacterium violaceum; Energy maintenance; Acetate formation; Pyruvate oxidase; Phosphate acetyltransferase; Acetate kinase
10.  Production of cinnamic and p-hydroxycinnamic acid from sugar mixtures with engineered Escherichia coli 
The aromatic compounds cinnamic acid (CA) and p-hydroxycinnamic acid (pHCA) are used as flavoring agents as well as precursors of chemicals. These compounds are present in plants at low concentrations, therefore, complex purification processes are usually required to extract the product. An alternative production method for these aromatic acids is based on the use of microbial strains modified by metabolic engineering. These biotechnological processes are usually based on the use of simple sugars like glucose as a raw material. However, sustainable production processes should preferably be based on the use of waste material such as lignocellulosic hydrolysates.
In this study, E. coli strains with active (W3110) and inactive phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) (VH33) were engineered for CA and pHCA production by transforming them with plasmids expressing genes encoding phenylalanine/tyrosine ammonia lyase (PAL/TAL) enzymes from Rhodotorula glutinis or Arabidopsis thaliana as well as genes aroGfbr and tktA, encoding a feedback inhibition resistant version of 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate 7-phosphate synthase and transketolase, respectively. The generated strains were evaluated in cultures with glucose, xylose or arabinose, as well as a simulated lignocellulosic hydrolysate containing a mixture of these three sugars plus acetate. Production of CA was detected in strains expressing PAL/TAL from A. thaliana, whereas both CA and pHCA accumulated in strains expressing the enzyme from R. glutinis. These experiments identified arabinose and W3110 expressing PAL/TAL from A. thaliana, aroGfbr and tktA as the carbon source/strain combination resulting in the best CA specific productivity and titer. To improve pHCA production, a mutant with inactive pheA gene was generated, causing an 8-fold increase in the yield of this aromatic acid from the sugars in a simulated hydrolysate.
In this study the quantitative contribution of active or inactive PTS as well as expression of PAL/TAL from R. glutinis or A. thaliana were determined for production performance of CA and pHCA when growing on carbon sources derived from lignocellulosic hydrolysates. These data will be a useful resource in efforts towards the development of sustainable technologies for the production of aromatic acids.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0185-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4305220  PMID: 25592545
Escherichia coli; Aromatics; P-hydroxycinnamic acid; Cinnamic acid; Phosphoenolpyruvate: carbohydrate phosphotransferase system; Sugar mixtures; Metabolic engineering
11.  High crude violacein production from glucose by Escherichia coli engineered with interactive control of tryptophan pathway and violacein biosynthetic pathway 
As bacteria-originated crude violacein, a natural indolocarbazole product, consists of violacein and deoxyviolacein, and can potentially be a new type of natural antibiotics, the reconstruction of an effective metabolic pathway for crude violacein (violacein and deoxyviolacein mixture) synthesis directly from glucose in Escherichia coli was of importance for developing industrial production process.
Strains with a multivariate module for varied tryptophan productivities were firstly generated by combinatorial knockout of trpR/tnaA/pheA genes and overexpression of two key genes trpEfbr/trpD from the upstream tryptophan metabolic pathway. Then, the gene cluster of violacein biosynthetic pathway was introduced downstream of the generated tryptophan pathway. After combination of these two pathways, maximum crude violacein production directly from glucose by E. coli B2/pED + pVio was realized with a titer of 0.6 ± 0.01 g L−1 in flask culture, which was four fold higher than that of the control without the tryptophan pathway up-regulation. In a 5-L bioreactor batch fermentation with glucose as the carbon source, the recombinant E. coli B2/pED + pVio exhibited a crude violacein titer of 1.75 g L−1 and a productivity of 36 mg L−1 h−1, which was the highest titer and productivity reported so far under the similar culture conditions without tryptophan addition.
Metabolic pathway analysis using 13C labeling illustrated that the up-regulated tryptophan supply enhanced tryptophan metabolism from glucose, whereas the introduction of violacein pathway drew more carbon flux from glucose to tryptophan, thereby contributing to the effective production of crude violacein in the engineered E. coli cell factory.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0192-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4306242  PMID: 25592762
Violacein; Tryptophan; Glucose; Pathway optimization; Escherichia coli
12.  Inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation for enhancing citric acid production by Aspergillus niger 
The spore germination rate and growth characteristics were compared between the citric acid high-yield strain Aspergillus niger CGMCC 5751 and A. niger ATCC 1015 in media containing antimycin A or DNP. We inferred that differences in citric acid yield might be due to differences in energy metabolism between these strains. To explore the impact of energy metabolism on citric acid production, the changes in intracellular ATP, NADH and NADH/NAD+ were measured at various fermentation stages. In addition, the effects of antimycin A or DNP on energy metabolism and citric acid production was investigated by CGMCC 5751.
By comparing the spore germination rate and the extent of growth on PDA plates containing antimycin A or DNP, CGMCC 5751 was shown to be more sensitive to antimycin A than ATCC 1015. The substrate-level phosphorylation of CGMCC 5751 was greater than that of ATCC 1015 on PDA plates with DNP. DNP at tested concentrations had no apparent effect on the growth of CGMCC 5751. There were no apparent effects on the mycelial morphology, the growth of mycelial pellets or the dry cell mass when 0.2 mg L-1 antimycin A or 0.1 mg L-1 DNP was added to medium at the 24-h time point. The concentrations of intracellular ATP, NADH and NADH/NAD+ of CGMCC 5751 were notably lower than those of ATCC 1015 at several fermentation stages. Moreover, at 96 h of fermentation, the citric acid production of CGMCC 5751 reached up to 151.67 g L-1 and 135.78 g L-1 by adding 0.2 mg L-1 antimycin A or 0.1 mg L-1 DNP, respectively, at the 24-h time point of fermentation. Thus, the citric acid production of CGMCC 5751 was increased by 19.89% and 7.32%, respectively.
The concentrations of intracellular ATP, NADH and NADH/NAD+ of the citric acid high-yield strain CGMCC 5751 were notably lower than those of ATCC 1015. The excessive ATP has a strong inhibitory effect on citric acid accumulation by A. niger. Increasing NADH oxidation and appropriately reducing the concentration of intracellular ATP can accelerate glycolysis and the TCA cycle to enhance citric acid yield.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0190-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320542  PMID: 25592678
Citric acid; Aspergillus niger; Oxidative phosphorylation inhibitor; Uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation; Energy metabolism
13.  Optimizing cofactor availability for the production of recombinant heme peroxidase in Pichia pastoris 
Insufficient incorporation of heme is considered a central impeding cause in the recombinant production of active heme proteins. Currently, two approaches are commonly taken to overcome this bottleneck; metabolic engineering of the heme biosynthesis pathway in the host organism to enhance intracellular heme production, and supplementation of the growth medium with the desired cofactor or precursors thereof to allow saturation of recombinantly produced apo-forms of the target protein. In this study, we investigated the effect of both, pathway engineering and medium supplementation, to optimize the recombinant production of the heme protein horseradish peroxidase in the yeast Pichia pastoris.
In contrast to studies with other hosts, co-overexpression of genes of the endogenous heme biosynthesis pathway did not improve the recombinant production of active heme protein. However, medium supplementation with hemin proved to be an efficient strategy to increase the yield of active enzyme, whereas supplementation with the commonly used precursor 5-aminolevulinic acid did not affect target protein yield.
The yield of active recombinant heme peroxidase from P. pastoris can be easily enhanced by supplementation of the cultivation medium with hemin. Thereby, secreted apo-species of the target protein are effectively saturated with cofactor, maximizing the yield of target enzyme activity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0187-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4299804  PMID: 25586641
Pichia pastoris; Recombinant protein production; Plant peroxidase; Horseradish peroxidase; Metabolic engineering; Cofactor; Heme; Heme biosynthesis; Apo-protein
14.  Expression of the functional recombinant human glycosyltransferase GalNAcT2 in Escherichia coli 
Recombinant protein-based therapeutics have become indispensable for the treatment of many diseases. They are produced using well-established expression systems based on bacteria, yeast, insect and mammalian cells. The majority of therapeutic proteins are glycoproteins and therefore the post-translational attachment of sugar residues is required. The development of an engineered Escherichia coli-based expression system for production of human glycoproteins could potentially lead to increased yields, as well as significant decreases in processing time and costs.
This work describes the expression of functional human-derived glycosyltransferase UDP-GalNAc:polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 2 (GalNAcT2) in a recombinant E. coli strain.
For expression, a codon-optimised gene encoding amino acids 52–571 of GalNAcT2 lacking the transmembrane N-terminal domain was inserted into a pET-23 derived vector encoding a polyhistidine-tag which was translationally fused to the N-terminus of the glycosyltransferase (HisDapGalNAcT2). The glycosyltransferase was produced in E. coli using a recently published expression system. Soluble HisDapGalNAcT2 produced in SHuffle® T7 host cells was purified using nickel affinity chromatography and was subsequently analysed by size exclusion chromatography coupled to multi-angle light scattering (SEC-MALS) and circular dichroism spectroscopy to determine molecular mass, folding state and thermal transitions of the protein. The activity of purified HisDapGalNAcT2 was monitored using a colorimetric assay based on the release of phosphate during transfer of glycosyl residues to a model acceptor peptide or, alternatively, to the granulocyte-colony stimulating growth factor (G-CSF). Modifications were assessed by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-flight Mass Spectrometry analysis (MALDI-TOF-MS) and Electrospray Mass Spectrometry analysis (ESI-MS). The results clearly indicate the glycosylation of the acceptor peptide and of G-CSF.
In the present work, we isolated a human-derived glycosyltransferase by expressing soluble HisDapGalNAcT2 in E. coli. The functional activity of the enzyme was shown in vitro. Further investigations are needed to assess the potential of in vivo glycosylation in E. coli.
PMCID: PMC4299809  PMID: 25582753
Protein expression; Escherichia coli; Glycosyltransferase GalNAcT2; Erv1p/PDI co-expression; in vitro glycosylation; Filgrastim; Recombinant glycosyltransferase; Enzymatic activity glycosyltransferase; Secondary structure glycosyltransferase
15.  Secretory production of tetrameric native full-length streptavidin with thermostability using Streptomyces lividans as a host 
Streptavidin is a tetrameric protein derived from Streptomyces avidinii, and has tight and specific biotin binding affinity. Applications of the streptavidin-biotin system have been widely studied. Streptavidin is generally produced using protein expression in Escherichia coli. In the present study, the secretory production of streptavidin was carried out using Streptomyces lividans as a host.
In this study, we used the gene encoding native full-length streptavidin, whereas the core region is generally used for streptavidin production in E. coli. Tetrameric streptavidin composed of native full-length streptavidin monomers was successfully secreted in the culture supernatant of S. lividans transformants, and had specific biotin binding affinity as strong as streptavidin produced by E. coli. The amount of Sav using S. lividans was about 9 times higher than using E. coli. Surprisingly, streptavidin produced by S. lividans exhibited affinity to biotin after boiling, despite the fact that tetrameric streptavidin is known to lose its biotin binding ability after brief boiling.
We successfully produced a large amount of tetrameric streptavidin as a secretory-form protein with unique thermotolerance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0188-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4328045  PMID: 25582841
Streptomyces; Streptavidin; Secretory production; Thermostability
16.  Metabolic engineering of the fungal D-galacturonate pathway for L-ascorbic acid production 
Synthetic L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is widely used as a preservative and nutrient in food and pharmaceutical industries. In the current production method, D-glucose is converted to L-ascorbic acid via several biochemical and chemical steps. The main source of L-ascorbic acid in human nutrition is plants. Several alternative metabolic pathways for L-ascorbic acid biosynthesis are known in plants. In one of them, D-galacturonic acid is the precursor. D-Galacturonic acid is also the main monomer in pectin, a plant cell wall polysaccharide. Pectin is abundant in biomass and is readily available from several waste streams from fruit and sugar processing industries.
In the present work, we engineered the filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger for the conversion of D-galacturonic acid to L-ascorbic acid. In the generated pathway, the native D-galacturonate reductase activity was utilized while the gene coding for the second enzyme in the fungal D-galacturonic acid pathway, an L-galactonate consuming dehydratase, was deleted. Two heterologous genes coding for enzymes from the plant L-ascorbic acid pathway – L-galactono-1,4-lactone lactonase from Euglena gracilis (EgALase) and L-galactono-1,4-lactone dehydrogenase from Malpighia glabra (MgGALDH) – were introduced into the A. niger strain. Alternatively, an unspecific L-gulono-1,4-lactone lactonase (smp30) from the animal L-ascorbic acid pathway was introduced in the fungal strain instead of the plant L-galactono-1,4-lactone lactonase. In addition, a strain with the production pathway inducible with D-galacturonic acid was generated by using a bidirectional and D-galacturonic acid inducible promoter from the fungus. Even though, the lactonase enzyme activity was not observed in the resulting strains, they were capable of producing L-ascorbic acid from pure D-galacturonic acid or pectin-rich biomass in a consolidated bioprocess. Product titers up to 170 mg/l were achieved.
In the current study, an L-ascorbic acid pathway using D-galacturonic acid as a precursor was introduced to a microorganism for the first time. This is also the first report on an engineered filamentous fungus for L-ascorbic acid production and a proof-of-concept of consolidated bioprocess for the production.
PMCID: PMC4299797  PMID: 25566698
L-ascorbic acid; D-galacturonic acid; L-galactonic acid; Citrus peel; Aspergillus niger; Metabolic engineering
17.  Development of a fed-batch process for a recombinant Pichia pastoris Δoch1 strain expressing a plant peroxidase 
Pichia pastoris is a prominent host for recombinant protein production, amongst other things due to its capability of glycosylation. However, N-linked glycans on recombinant proteins get hypermannosylated, causing problems in subsequent unit operations and medical applications. Hypermannosylation is triggered by an α-1,6-mannosyltransferase called OCH1. In a recent study, we knocked out OCH1 in a recombinant P. pastoris CBS7435 MutS strain (Δoch1) expressing the biopharmaceutically relevant enzyme horseradish peroxidase. We characterized the strain in the controlled environment of a bioreactor in dynamic batch cultivations and identified the strain to be physiologically impaired. We faced cell cluster formation, cell lysis and uncontrollable foam formation.
In the present study, we investigated the effects of the 3 process parameters temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen concentration on 1) cell physiology, 2) cell morphology, 3) cell lysis, 4) productivity and 5) product purity of the recombinant Δoch1 strain in a multivariate manner. Cultivation at 30°C resulted in low specific methanol uptake during adaptation and the risk of methanol accumulation during cultivation. Cell cluster formation was a function of the C-source rather than process parameters and went along with cell lysis. In terms of productivity and product purity a temperature of 20°C was highly beneficial. In summary, we determined cultivation conditions for a recombinant P. pastoris Δoch1 strain allowing high productivity and product purity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0183-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4335410  PMID: 25567661
Pichia pastoris; Glycosylation; OCH1; Horseradish peroxidase; Bioreactor cultivation; Fed-batch; Design of Experiments
18.  Biomass pyrolysis liquid to citric acid via 2-step bioconversion 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):182.
The use of fossil carbon sources for fuels and petrochemicals has serious impacts on our environment and is unable to meet the demand in the future. A promising and sustainable alternative is to substitute fossil carbon sources with microbial cell factories converting lignocellulosic biomass into desirable value added products. However, such bioprocesses require tolerance to inhibitory compounds generated during pretreatment of biomass. In this study, the process of sequential two-step bio-conversion of biomass pyrolysis liquid containing levoglucosan (LG) to citric acid without chemical detoxification has been explored, which can greatly improve the utilization efficiency of lignocellulosic biomass.
The sequential two-step bio-conversion of corn stover pyrolysis liquid to citric acid has been established. The first step conversion by Phanerochaete chrysosporium (P. chrysosporium) is desirable to decrease the content of other compounds except levoglucosan as a pretreatment for the second conversion. The remaining levoglucosan in solution was further converted into citric acid by Aspergillus niger (A. niger) CBX-209. Thus the conversion of cellulose to citric acid is completed by both pyrolysis and bio-conversion technology. Under experimental conditions, levoglucosan yield is 12% based on the feedstock and the citric acid yield can reach 82.1% based on the levoglucosan content in the pyrolysis liquid (namely 82.1 g of citric acid per 100 g of levoglucosan).
The study shows that P. chrysosporium and A. niger have the potential to be used as production platforms for value-added products from pyrolyzed lignocellulosic biomass. Selected P. chrysosporium is able to decrease the content of other compounds except levoglucosan and levoglucosan can be further converted into citric acid in the residual liquids by A. niger. Thus the conversion of cellulose to citric acid is completed by both pyrolysis and bio-conversion technology.
PMCID: PMC4299680  PMID: 25551193
Lignocellulosic biomass; Pyrolysis; Levoglucosan; Bio-conversion; Citric acid
19.  Optimization of the recombinant production and purification of a self-assembling peptide in Escherichia coli 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):178.
Amphiphilic peptides are important building blocks to generate nanostructured biomaterials for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications. We have shown that the self-assembling peptide SA2 (Ac-AAVVLLLWEE) can be recombinantly produced in E. coli when fused to the small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) protein. Although this system yielded peptides of high purity with no residual amino acids after cleavage of the SUMO fusion protein, the yield after purification was generally low (~1 mg/L bacterial culture) as compared to other peptides and proteins produced with the same method and under the same conditions.
The aim of this study is to understand the underlying mechanisms causing the low yield of this recombinant peptide in E. coli and to optimize both production and purification of recombinant SA2 peptides. It was demonstrated that by simply changing the medium to a well-balanced auto-induction medium the yield of recombinant production was augmented (~4 fold). Moreover, it was demonstrated that self-assembly of SUMO-SA2 fusion proteins caused the low peptide yields after purification. By replacing the second IMAC purification step with a selective precipitation step, peptide yields could be increased approx. 3 fold. With these optimizations in place the overall yield of purified SA2 peptide increased with 12-fold.
Premature self-assembly of the SUMO-SA2 fusion construct interfered with proper purification of the SA2 peptide, resulting in low yields of purified peptide and this could be prevented by changing the mode of purification. These findings are important when setting up purification schemes for other self-assembling peptides with the use of a SUMO fusion construct.
PMCID: PMC4311431  PMID: 25551787
Self-assembly; Amphiphilic peptide; SUMO protein; Recombinant expression; Selective precipitation
20.  Quality assessment and optimization of purified protein samples: why and how? 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):180.
Purified protein quality control is the final and critical check-point of any protein production process. Unfortunately, it is too often overlooked and performed hastily, resulting in irreproducible and misleading observations in downstream applications. In this review, we aim at proposing a simple-to-follow workflow based on an ensemble of widely available physico-chemical technologies, to assess sequentially the essential properties of any protein sample: purity and integrity, homogeneity and activity. Approaches are then suggested to optimize the homogeneity, time-stability and storage conditions of purified protein preparations, as well as methods to rapidly evaluate their reproducibility and lot-to-lot consistency.
PMCID: PMC4299812  PMID: 25547134
Recombinant protein; Therapeutic; Diagnosis; Structural biology; Electrophoresis; Mass spectrometry; UV/visible spectroscopy; Light scattering; Size-exclusion chromatography; Surface plasmon resonance; Formulation; Comparability
21.  An engineered autotransporter-based surface expression vector enables efficient display of Affibody molecules on OmpT-negative E. coli as well as protease-mediated secretion in OmpT-positive strains 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):179.
Cell display technologies (e.g. bacterial display) are attractive in directed evolution as they provide the option to use flow-cytometric cell sorting for selection from combinatorial libraries. The aim of this study was to engineer and investigate an expression vector system with dual functionalities: i) recombinant display of Affibody libraries on Escherichia coli for directed evolution and ii) small scale secreted production of candidate affinity proteins, allowing initial downstream characterizations prior to subcloning. Autotransporters form a class of surface proteins in Gram-negative bacteria that have potential for efficient translocation and tethering of recombinant passenger proteins to the outer membrane. We engineered a bacterial display vector based on the E. coli AIDA-I autotransporter for anchoring to the bacterial surface. Potential advantages of employing autotransporters combined with E. coli as host include: high surface expression level, high transformation frequency, alternative promoter systems available, efficient translocation to the outer membrane and tolerance for large multi-domain passenger proteins.
The new vector was designed to comprise an expression cassette encoding for an Affibody molecule, three albumin binding domains for monitoring of surface expression levels, an Outer membrane Protease T (OmpT) recognition site for potential protease-mediated secretion of displayed affinity proteins and a histidine-tag for purification. A panel of vectors with different promoters were generated and evaluated, and suitable cultivation conditions were investigated. The results demonstrated a high surface expression level of the different evaluated Affibody molecules, high correlation between target binding and surface expression level, high signal-to-background ratio, efficient secretion and purification of binders in OmpT-positive hosts as well as tight regulation of surface expression for the titratable promoters. Importantly, a mock selection using FACS from a 1:100,000 background yielded around 20,000-fold enrichment in a single round and high viability of the isolated bacteria after sorting.
The new expression vectors are promising for combinatorial engineering of Affibody molecules and the strategy for small-scale production of soluble recombinant proteins has the potential to increase throughput of the entire discovery process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0179-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4304625  PMID: 25547008
Affibody molecule; Bacterial display; Directed evolution; Combinatorial protein engineering; AIDA-I; Autotransporter; FACS; Secreted protein production; E. coli; Phage display
22.  Effect of elevated oxygen concentration on bacteria, yeasts, and cells propagated for production of biological compounds 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):181.
The response of bacteria, yeast, and mammalian and insects cells to oxidative stress is a topic that has been studied for many years. However, in most the reported studies, the oxidative stress was caused by challenging the organisms with H2O2 and redox-cycling drugs, but not by subjecting the cells to high concentrations of molecular oxygen. In this review we summarize available information about the effect of elevated oxygen concentrations on the physiology of microorganisms and cells at various culture conditions. In general, increased oxygen concentrations promote higher leakage of reactive oxygen species (superoxide and H2O2) from the respiratory chain affecting metalloenzymes and DNA that in turn cause impaired growth and elevated mutagenesis. To prevent the potential damage, the microorganisms and cells respond by activating antioxidant defenses and repair systems. This review described the factors that affect growth properties and metabolism at elevated oxygen concentrations that cells may be exposed to, in bioreactor sparged with oxygen enriched air which could affect the yield and quality of the recombinant proteins produced by high cell density schemes.
PMCID: PMC4279996  PMID: 25547171
Hyperoxia; Oxidative stress; ROS; Protein oxidation; SOD activity; Hyperoxygenation
23.  Genome engineering for improved recombinant protein expression in Escherichia coli 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):177.
A metabolic engineering perspective which views recombinant protein expression as a multistep pathway allows us to move beyond vector design and identify the downstream rate limiting steps in expression. In E.coli these are typically at the translational level and the supply of precursors in the form of energy, amino acids and nucleotides. Further recombinant protein production triggers a global cellular stress response which feedback inhibits both growth and product formation. Countering this requires a system level analysis followed by a rational host cell engineering to sustain expression for longer time periods. Another strategy to increase protein yields could be to divert the metabolic flux away from biomass formation and towards recombinant protein production. This would require a growth stoppage mechanism which does not affect the metabolic activity of the cell or the transcriptional or translational efficiencies. Finally cells have to be designed for efficient export to prevent buildup of proteins inside the cytoplasm and also simplify downstream processing. The rational and the high throughput strategies that can be used for the construction of such improved host cell platforms for recombinant protein expression is the focus of this review.
PMCID: PMC4300154  PMID: 25523647
Recombinant protein expression; Escherichia coli; Metabolic engineering; Genome engineering
24.  Engineering of Serine-Deamination pathway, Entner-Doudoroff pathway and pyruvate dehydrogenase complex to improve poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) production in Escherichia coli 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):172.
Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), a biodegradable bio-plastic, is one of the most common homopolymer of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). PHB is synthesized by a variety of microorganisms as intracellular carbon and energy storage compounds in response to environmental stresses. Bio-based production of PHB from renewable feedstock is a promising and sustainable alternative to the petroleum-based chemical synthesis of plastics. In this study, a novel strategy was applied to improve the PHB biosynthesis from different carbon sources.
In this research, we have constructed E. coli strains to produce PHB by engineering the Serine-Deamination (SD) pathway, the Entner-Doudoroff (ED) pathway, and the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex. Firstly, co-overexpression of sdaA (encodes L-serine deaminase), L-serine biosynthesis genes and pgk (encodes phosphoglycerate kinase) activated the SD Pathway, and the resulting strain SD02 (pBHR68), harboring the PHB biosynthesis genes from Ralstonia eutropha, produced 4.86 g/L PHB using glucose as the sole carbon source, representing a 2.34-fold increase compared to the reference strain. In addition, activating the ED pathway together with overexpressing the PDH complex further increased the PHB production to 5.54 g/L with content of 81.1% CDW. The intracellular acetyl-CoA concentration and the [NADPH]/[NADP+] ratio were enhanced after the modification of SD pathway, ED pathway and the PDH complex. Meanwhile, these engineering strains also had a significant increase in PHB concentration and content when xylose or glycerol was used as carbon source.
Significant levels of PHB biosynthesis from different kinds of carbon sources can be achieved by engineering the Serine-Deamination pathway, Entner-Doudoroff pathway and pyruvate dehydrogenase complex in E. coli JM109 harboring the PHB biosynthesis genes from Ralstonia eutropha. This work demonstrates a novel strategy for improving PHB production in E. coli. The strategy reported here should be useful for the bio-based production of PHB from renewable resources.
PMCID: PMC4279783  PMID: 25510247
Escherichia coli; poly(3-hydroxybutyrate); L-serine deaminate; Entner-Doudoroff pathway; Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex
25.  First co-expression of a lipase and its specific foldase obtained by metagenomics 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):171.
Metagenomics is a useful tool in the search for new lipases that might have characteristics that make them suitable for application in biocatalysis. This paper reports the cloning, co-expression, purification and characterization of a new lipase, denominated LipG9, and its specific foldase, LifG9, from a metagenomic library derived from a fat-contaminated soil.
Within the metagenomic library, the gene lipg9 was cloned jointly with the gene of the foldase, lifg9. LipG9 and LifG9 have 96% and 84% identity, respectively, with the corresponding proteins of Aeromonas veronii B565. LipG9 and LifG9 were co-expressed, both in N-truncated form, in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3), using the vectors pET28a(+) and pT7-7, respectively, and then purified by affinity chromatography using a Ni2+ column (HiTrap Chelating HP). The purified enzyme eluted from the column complexed with its foldase. The molecular masses of the N-truncated proteins were 32 kDa for LipG9, including the N-terminal His-tag with 6 residues, and 23 kDa for LifG9, which did not have a His-tag. The biochemical and kinetic characteristics of the purified lipase-foldase preparation were investigated. This preparation was active and stable over a wide range of pH values (6.5-9.5) and temperatures (10-40°C), with the highest specific activity, of 1500 U mg−1, being obtained at pH 7.5 at 30°C. It also had high specific activities against tributyrin, tricaprylin and triolein, with values of 1852, 1566 and 817 U mg−1, respectively. A phylogenetic analysis placed LipG9 in the lipase subfamily I.1. A comparison of the sequence of LipG9 with those of other bacterial lipases in the Protein Data Bank showed that LipG9 contains not only the classic catalytic triad (Ser103, Asp250, His272), with the catalytic Ser occurring within a conserved pentapeptide, Gly-His-Ser-His-Gly, but also a conserved disulfide bridge and a conserved calcium binding site. The homology-modeled structure presents a canonical α/β hydrolase folding type I.
This paper is the first to report the successful co-expression of a lipase and its associated foldase from a metagenomic library. The high activity and stability of Lip-LifG9 suggest that it has a good potential for use in biocatalysis.
PMCID: PMC4305245  PMID: 25510188
Lipases; Metagenomics; Biocatalysis; Lipase-foldase co-expression

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