Optimizing heterologous protein production in the periplasm of E. coli by regulating gene expression levels

S. Schlegel, E. Rujas, A.J. Ytterberg, R.A. Zubarev, J. Luirink, J.W. de Gier

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: In Escherichia coli many heterologous proteins are produced in the periplasm. To direct these proteins to the periplasm, they are equipped with an N-terminal signal sequence so that they can traverse the cytoplasmic membrane via the protein-conducting Sec-translocon. For poorly understood reasons, the production of heterologous secretory proteins is often toxic to the cell thereby limiting yields. To gain insight into the mechanism(s) that underlie this toxicity we produced two secretory heterologous proteins, super folder green fluorescent protein and a single-chain variable antibody fragment, in the Lemo21(DE3) strain. In this strain, the expression intensity of the gene encoding the target protein can be precisely controlled.Results: Both SFGFP and the single-chain variable antibody fragment were equipped with a DsbA-derived signal sequence. Producing these proteins following different gene expression levels in Lemo21(DE3) allowed us to identify the optimal expression level for each target gene. Too high gene expression levels resulted in saturation of the Sec-translocon capacity as shown by hampered translocation of endogenous secretory proteins and a protein misfolding/aggregation problem in the cytoplasm. At the optimal gene expression levels, the negative effects of the production of the heterologous secretory proteins were minimized and yields in the periplasm were optimized.Conclusions: Saturating the Sec-translocon capacity can be a major bottleneck hampering heterologous protein production in the periplasm. This bottleneck can be alleviated by harmonizing expression levels of the genes encoding the heterologous secretory proteins with the Sec-translocon capacity. Mechanistic insight into the production of proteins in the periplasm is key to optimizing yields in this compartment. © 2013 Schlegel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
LanguageEnglish
Pages24
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Periplasm
Gene expression
Escherichia coli
Proteins
Gene Expression
Single-Chain Antibodies
Gene encoding
Protein Sorting Signals
Antibodies
Poisons
Green Fluorescent Proteins
Membrane Proteins
Cytoplasm
Toxicity

Bibliographical note

1475-2859 Schlegel, Susan Rujas, Edurne Ytterberg, Anders Jimmy Zubarev, Roman A Luirink, Joen de Gier, Jan-Willem 5R01GM081827-03/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/United States Journal Article Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't England Microb Cell Fact. 2013 Mar 12;12:24. doi: 10.1186/1475-2859-12-24.

Cite this

Schlegel, S. ; Rujas, E. ; Ytterberg, A.J. ; Zubarev, R.A. ; Luirink, J. ; de Gier, J.W. / Optimizing heterologous protein production in the periplasm of E. coli by regulating gene expression levels. In: Microbial Cell Factories. 2013 ; Vol. 12. pp. 24.
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abstract = "Background: In Escherichia coli many heterologous proteins are produced in the periplasm. To direct these proteins to the periplasm, they are equipped with an N-terminal signal sequence so that they can traverse the cytoplasmic membrane via the protein-conducting Sec-translocon. For poorly understood reasons, the production of heterologous secretory proteins is often toxic to the cell thereby limiting yields. To gain insight into the mechanism(s) that underlie this toxicity we produced two secretory heterologous proteins, super folder green fluorescent protein and a single-chain variable antibody fragment, in the Lemo21(DE3) strain. In this strain, the expression intensity of the gene encoding the target protein can be precisely controlled.Results: Both SFGFP and the single-chain variable antibody fragment were equipped with a DsbA-derived signal sequence. Producing these proteins following different gene expression levels in Lemo21(DE3) allowed us to identify the optimal expression level for each target gene. Too high gene expression levels resulted in saturation of the Sec-translocon capacity as shown by hampered translocation of endogenous secretory proteins and a protein misfolding/aggregation problem in the cytoplasm. At the optimal gene expression levels, the negative effects of the production of the heterologous secretory proteins were minimized and yields in the periplasm were optimized.Conclusions: Saturating the Sec-translocon capacity can be a major bottleneck hampering heterologous protein production in the periplasm. This bottleneck can be alleviated by harmonizing expression levels of the genes encoding the heterologous secretory proteins with the Sec-translocon capacity. Mechanistic insight into the production of proteins in the periplasm is key to optimizing yields in this compartment. {\circledC} 2013 Schlegel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.",
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Optimizing heterologous protein production in the periplasm of E. coli by regulating gene expression levels. / Schlegel, S.; Rujas, E.; Ytterberg, A.J.; Zubarev, R.A.; Luirink, J.; de Gier, J.W.

In: Microbial Cell Factories, Vol. 12, 2013, p. 24.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Optimizing heterologous protein production in the periplasm of E. coli by regulating gene expression levels

AU - Schlegel, S.

AU - Rujas, E.

AU - Ytterberg, A.J.

AU - Zubarev, R.A.

AU - Luirink, J.

AU - de Gier, J.W.

N1 - 1475-2859 Schlegel, Susan Rujas, Edurne Ytterberg, Anders Jimmy Zubarev, Roman A Luirink, Joen de Gier, Jan-Willem 5R01GM081827-03/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/United States Journal Article Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't England Microb Cell Fact. 2013 Mar 12;12:24. doi: 10.1186/1475-2859-12-24.

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - Background: In Escherichia coli many heterologous proteins are produced in the periplasm. To direct these proteins to the periplasm, they are equipped with an N-terminal signal sequence so that they can traverse the cytoplasmic membrane via the protein-conducting Sec-translocon. For poorly understood reasons, the production of heterologous secretory proteins is often toxic to the cell thereby limiting yields. To gain insight into the mechanism(s) that underlie this toxicity we produced two secretory heterologous proteins, super folder green fluorescent protein and a single-chain variable antibody fragment, in the Lemo21(DE3) strain. In this strain, the expression intensity of the gene encoding the target protein can be precisely controlled.Results: Both SFGFP and the single-chain variable antibody fragment were equipped with a DsbA-derived signal sequence. Producing these proteins following different gene expression levels in Lemo21(DE3) allowed us to identify the optimal expression level for each target gene. Too high gene expression levels resulted in saturation of the Sec-translocon capacity as shown by hampered translocation of endogenous secretory proteins and a protein misfolding/aggregation problem in the cytoplasm. At the optimal gene expression levels, the negative effects of the production of the heterologous secretory proteins were minimized and yields in the periplasm were optimized.Conclusions: Saturating the Sec-translocon capacity can be a major bottleneck hampering heterologous protein production in the periplasm. This bottleneck can be alleviated by harmonizing expression levels of the genes encoding the heterologous secretory proteins with the Sec-translocon capacity. Mechanistic insight into the production of proteins in the periplasm is key to optimizing yields in this compartment. © 2013 Schlegel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

AB - Background: In Escherichia coli many heterologous proteins are produced in the periplasm. To direct these proteins to the periplasm, they are equipped with an N-terminal signal sequence so that they can traverse the cytoplasmic membrane via the protein-conducting Sec-translocon. For poorly understood reasons, the production of heterologous secretory proteins is often toxic to the cell thereby limiting yields. To gain insight into the mechanism(s) that underlie this toxicity we produced two secretory heterologous proteins, super folder green fluorescent protein and a single-chain variable antibody fragment, in the Lemo21(DE3) strain. In this strain, the expression intensity of the gene encoding the target protein can be precisely controlled.Results: Both SFGFP and the single-chain variable antibody fragment were equipped with a DsbA-derived signal sequence. Producing these proteins following different gene expression levels in Lemo21(DE3) allowed us to identify the optimal expression level for each target gene. Too high gene expression levels resulted in saturation of the Sec-translocon capacity as shown by hampered translocation of endogenous secretory proteins and a protein misfolding/aggregation problem in the cytoplasm. At the optimal gene expression levels, the negative effects of the production of the heterologous secretory proteins were minimized and yields in the periplasm were optimized.Conclusions: Saturating the Sec-translocon capacity can be a major bottleneck hampering heterologous protein production in the periplasm. This bottleneck can be alleviated by harmonizing expression levels of the genes encoding the heterologous secretory proteins with the Sec-translocon capacity. Mechanistic insight into the production of proteins in the periplasm is key to optimizing yields in this compartment. © 2013 Schlegel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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DO - 10.1186/1475-2859-12-24

M3 - Article

VL - 12

SP - 24

JO - Microbial Cell Factories

T2 - Microbial Cell Factories

JF - Microbial Cell Factories

SN - 1475-2859

ER -