Expression and secretion of a lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase by a fast-growing cyanobacterium

D. A. Russo*, J. A.Z. Zedler, D. N. Wittmann, B. Möllers, R. K. Singh, T. S. Batth, B. Van Oort, J. V. Olsen, M. J. Bjerrum, P. E. Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Cyanobacteria have the potential to become next-generation cell factories due to their ability to use CO 2 , light and inorganic nutrients to produce a range of biomolecules of commercial interest. Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973, in particular, is a fast-growing, genetically tractable, cyanobacterium that has garnered attention as a potential biotechnological chassis. To establish this unique strain as a host for heterologous protein production, we aimed to demonstrate expression and secretion of the industrially relevant TfAA10A, a lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase from the Gram-positive bacterium Thermobifida fusca. Results: Two variations of TfAA10A were successfully expressed in S. elongatus UTEX 2973: One containing the native N-terminal, Sec-targeted, signal peptide and a second with a Tat-targeted signal peptide from the Escherichia coli trimethylamine-N-oxide reductase (TorA). Although the TorA signal peptide correctly targeted the protein to the plasma membrane, the majority of the TorA-TfAA10A was found unprocessed in the plasma membrane with a small fraction of the mature protein ultimately translocated to the periplasm. The native Sec signal peptide allowed for efficient secretion of TfAA10A into the medium with virtually no protein being found in the cytosol, plasma membrane or periplasm. TfAA10A was demonstrated to be correctly cleaved and active on the model substrate phosphoric acid swollen cellulose. Additionally, expression and secretion only had a minor impact on cell growth. The secretion yield was estimated at 779 ± 40 μg L -1 based on densitometric analysis. To our knowledge, this is the highest secretion yield ever registered in cyanobacteria. Conclusions: We have shown for the first time high-titer expression and secretion of an industrially relevant and catalytically active enzyme in S. elongatus UTEX 2973. This proof-of-concept study will be valuable for the development of novel and sustainable applications in the fields of bioremediation and biocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number74
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


This work was supported by the Copenhagen Plant Science Centre, the VILLUM Foundation “Light-driven biosynthesis: Improving photosynthesis by designing and exploring novel electron transfer pathways”(Project No. 13363), the Novo Nordisk Foundation project “Harnessing the Energy of the Sun for Biomass Conversion”(NNF16OC0021832), the Novo Nordisk Foundation project “HOPE—Harnessing the oxidative power of enzymes”(NNF17SA0027704) and the project “Cynthetica”from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 745959. Work at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR) is funded in part by a generous donation from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Grant number NNF14CC0001).

FundersFunder number
Villum Fonden13363
Horizon 2020 Framework ProgrammeNNF14CC0001, 745959, 654148
Novo Nordisk FondenNNF16OC0021832, NNF17SA0027704
Copenhagen Plant Science Centre, University of Copenhagen


    • Bacterial secretion
    • Cyanobacteria
    • General secretory pathway
    • Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase
    • Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973
    • TfAA10A
    • Twin-arginine-translocation


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