Tripeptide glutathione (gamma-glutamyl-L-cysteinyl-glycine) is the most abundant non-protein thiol that protects cells from metabolic and oxidative stresses and is widely used as medicine, food additives and in cosmetic industry. The methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polymorpha is regarded as a rich source of glutathione due to the role of this thiol in detoxifications of key intermediates of methanol metabolism. Cellular and extracellular glutathione production of H. polymorpha DL-1 in the wild type and recombinant strains which overexpress genes of glutathione biosynthesis (GSH2) and its precursor cysteine (MET4) was studied.
Glutathione producing capacity of H. polymorpha DL-1 depending on parameters of cultivation (dissolved oxygen tension, pH, stirrer speed), carbon substrate (glucose, methanol) and type of overexpressed genes of glutathione and its precursor biosynthesis during batch and fed-batch fermentations were studied. Under optimized conditions of glucose fed-batch cultivation, the glutathione productivity of the engineered strains was increased from ~900 up to ~ 2300 mg of Total Intracellular Glutathione (TIG) or GSH+GSSGin, per liter of culture medium. Meantime, methanol fed-batch cultivation of one of the recombinant strains allowed achieving the extracellular glutathione productivity up to 250 mg of Total Extracellular Glutathione (TEG) or GSH+GSSGex, per liter of the culture medium.
H. polymorpha is an competitive glutathione producer as compared to other known yeast and bacteria strains (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida utilis, Escherichia coli, Lactococcus lactis etc.) with good perspectives for further improvement especially for production of extracellular form of glutathione.