Rational and combinatorial genetic engineering approaches for improved recombinant protein production and purification
Sammanfattning: The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) is in many situations an ideal host for production of recombinant proteins, since it generally provides a rapid and economical means to achieve sufficiently high product quantities. However, there are several factors that may limit this host’s ability to produce large amounts of heterologous proteins in a soluble and native form. For many applications a high purity of the recombinant protein is demanded, which implies a purification strategy where the product efficiently can be isolated from the complex milieu of host cell contaminants. In this thesis, different strategies based on both rational and combinatorial genetic engineering principles have been investigated, aiming at improving and facilitating recombinant E. coli protein production and purification.One objective was to improve the PEG/salt aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) purification process of the lipase cutinase, by increasing the selectivity of the protein for the system top-phase. Peptide tags, with varying properties, were designed and genetically fused to the C-terminal end of ZZ-cutinase. Greatly increased partitioning values were observed for purified protein variants fused to tryptophan containing peptide tags, particularly a (WP)4 peptide. The partitioning properties of the ZZ-cutinase-(WP)4 protein were also retained when added to the ATPS directly from an E. coli total cell disintegrate, emphasizing the applicability of this genetic engineering strategy for primary protein purification in ATPSs.Further on, a combinatorial library approach using phage display technology was investigated as a tool for identification of peptide tags capable of improving partitioning properties of ZZ-cutinase in an ATPS. Repeated ATPS-based partitioning-selection cycles of a large phagemid (pVIII) peptide library, resulted in isolation of phage particles preferentially decorated with peptides rich in tyrosine and proline residues. Both a peptide corresponding to a phage library derived peptide sequence as well as peptides designed based on information of amino acid appearance frequencies in later selection rounds, were shown to improve partitioning several-fold when genetically fused to the C-terminal end of ZZ-cutinase. From the two- to four–fold increased production yields observed for these fusion proteins compared to ZZ-cutinase-(WP)4, it was concluded that the selection system used allowed for selection of desired peptide properties related to both partitioning and E. coli protein production parameters.Bacterial protein production is affected by several different mRNA and protein sequence-related features. Attempts to address single parameters in this respect are difficult due to the inter-dependence of many features, for example between codon optimization and mRNA secondary structure effects. Two combinatorial expression vector libraries (ExLib1 and ExLib2) were constructed using a randomization strategy that potentially could lead to variations in many of these sequence-related features and which would allow a pragmatic search of vector variants showing positive net effects on the level of soluble protein production. ExLib1 was constructed to encode all possible synonymous codons of an eight amino acid N-terminal extension of protein Z, fused to the N-terminal of an enhanced green fluorescent reporter protein (EGFP). In ExLib2, the same eight positions were randomized using an (NNG/T) degeneracy code, which could lead to various effects on both the nucleotide and protein level, through the introduction of nucleotide sequences functional as e.g. alternative ribosome binding or translation initiation sites or as translated codons for an Nterminal extension of the target protein by a peptide sequence. Flow cytometric analyses and sorting of library cell cultures resulted in isolation of clones displaying several-fold increases in whole cell fluorescence compared to a reference clone. SDS-PAGE and western blot analyses verified that this was a result of increases (up to 24-fold) in soluble intracellular ZEGFP product protein content. Both position specific codon bias effects and the appearance of new ribosomal binding sites in the library sequences were concluded to have influenced the protein production.To explore the possibility of applying the same combinatorial library strategy for improving soluble intracellular production of heterologous proteins proven difficult to express in E. coli, three proteins with either bacterial (a transcriptional regulator (DntR)) or human (progesterone receptor ligand binding domain (PRLBD) and 11-β Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type I (11-β)) origin, were cloned into the ExLib2 library. Flow cytometric sorting of libraries resulted in isolation of DntR library clones showing increased soluble protein production levels and PR-LBD library clones with up to ten-fold increases in whole cell fluorescence, although the product under these conditions co-separated with the insoluble cell material.
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