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Journal: BMC biotechnology


BACKGROUND: Pseudomonas putida KT2440 is able to synthesize large amounts of medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates (mcl-PHAs). To reduce the substrate cost, which represents nearly 50% of the total PHA production cost, xylose, a hemicellulose derivate, was tested as the growth carbon source in an engineered P. putida KT2440 strain. RESULTS: The genes encoding xylose isomerase (XylA) and xylulokinase (XylB) from Escherichia coli W3110 were introduced into P. putida KT2440. The recombinant KT2440 exhibited a XylA activity of 1.47 U and a XylB activity of 0.97 U when grown on a defined medium supplemented with xylose. The cells reached a maximum specific growth rate of 0.24 h-1 and a final cell dry weight (CDW) of 2.5 g L-1 with a maximal yield of 0.5 g CDW g-1 xylose. Since no mcl-PHA was accumulated from xylose, mcl-PHA production can be controlled by the addition of fatty acids leading to tailor-made PHA compositions. Sequential feeding strategy was applied using xylose as the growth substrate and octanoic acid as the precursor for mcl-PHA production. In this way, up to 20% w w-1 of mcl-PHA was obtained. A yield of 0.37 g mcl-PHA per g octanoic acid was achieved under employed conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Sequential feeding of relatively cheap carbohydrates and expensive fatty acids is a practical way to achieve more cost-effective mcl-PHA production. This study is the first reported attempt to produce mcl-PHA by using xylose as the growth substrate. Further process optimizations to achieve higher cell density and higher productivity of mcl-PHA should be investigated. These scientific exercises will undoubtedly contribute to the economic feasibility of mcl-PHA production from renewable feedstock.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Escherichia coli, Fatty acid metabolism, Pseudomonas, Pseudomonas putida, Polyhydroxyalkanoates


Single-domain antibodies (sdAbs), also known as nanobodies or VHHs, are characterized by high stability and solubility, thus maintaining the affinity and therapeutic value provided by conventional antibodies. Given these properties, VHHs offer a novel alternative to classical antibody approaches. To date, VHHs have been produced mainly in E. coli, yeast, plants and mammalian cells. To apply the single-domain antibodies as a preventive or therapeutic strategy to control rotavirus infections in developing countries (444,000 deaths in children under 5 years of age) has to be minimized their production costs.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Bacteria, Larva, Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis, Single domain antibody


BACKGROUND: Many proteins form insoluble protein aggregates, called “inclusion bodies”, when overexpressed in E. coli. This is the biggest obstacle in biotechnology. Ever since the reversible denaturation of proteins by chaotropic agents such as urea or guanidinium hydrochloride had been shown, these compounds were predominantly used to dissolve inclusion bodies. Other denaturants exist but have received much less attention in protein purification. While the anionic, denaturing detergent sodiumdodecylsulphate (SDS) is used extensively in analytical SDS-PAGE, it has rarely been used in preparative purification. RESULTS: Here we present a simple and versatile method to purify insoluble, hexahistidine-tagged proteins under denaturing conditions. It is based on dissolution of overexpressing bacterial cells in a buffer containing sodiumdodecylsulfate (SDS) and whole-lysate denaturation of proteins. The excess of detergent is removed by cooling and centrifugation prior to affinity purification. Host- and overexpressed proteins do not co-precipitate with SDS and the residual concentration of detergent is compatible with affinity purification on Ni/NTA resin. We show that SDS can be replaced with another ionic detergent, Sarkosyl, during purification. Key advantages over denaturing purification in urea or guanidinium are speed, ease of use, low cost of denaturant and the compatibility of buffers with automated FPLC. CONCLUSION: Ionic, denaturing detergents are useful in breaking the solubility barrier, a major obstacle in biotechnology. The method we present yields detergent-denatured protein. Methods to refold proteins from a detergent denatured state are known and therefore we propose that the procedure presented herein will be of general application in biotechnology.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Molecular biology, Escherichia coli, Biotechnology, Gel electrophoresis, Denaturation, Chaotropic agent


The authors have retracted the article “Heterologous expression, purification and characterization of nitrilase from Aspergillus niger K10” published in BMC Biotechnology (2011, 11:2). After publication of the article, the authors realized that MALDI data analysis of the wild-type enzyme in Figure 1 prepared by Karel Bezouska is erroneous. Specifically, the protein sequence of the nitrilase purified from Aspergillus niger K10 (designated Nit-ANigWT) is incorrect. Hence, the two enzymes in Figure 1 are not variants of the same enzyme as hypothesized in the original article. In light of this, the original conclusions are no longer valid and further investigation of this protein is in progress. The Ethical Committee of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Charles University in Prague has found evidence of scientific misconduct on the part of Karel Bezouska. We apologize to all affected parties.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Prague, Bohemia, Scientific misconduct, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor


Escherichia coli is most widely used prokaryotic expression system for the production of recombinant proteins. Several strategies have been employed for expressing recombinant proteins in E.coli. This includes the development of novel host systems, expression vectors and cost effective media. In this study, we exploit tender coconut water (TCW) as a natural and cheaper growth medium for E.coli and Pichia pastoris.Result: E.coli and P.pastoris were cultivated in TCW and the growth rate was monitored by measuring optical density at 600nm (OD600nm), where 1.55 for E.coli and 8.7 for P.pastoris was obtained after 12 and 60 hours, respectively. However, variation in growth rate was observed among TCW when collected from different localities (0.15-2.5 at OD600nm), which is attributed to the varying chemical profile among samples. In this regard, we attempted the supplementation of TCW with different carbon and nitrogen sources to attain consistency in growth rate. Here, supplementation of TCW with 25mM ammonium sulphate (TCW-S) was noted efficient for the normalization of inconsistency, which further increased the biomass of E.coli by 2 to 10 folds, and 1.5 to 2 fold in P.pastoris. These results indicate that nitrogen source is the major limiting factor for growth. This was supported by total nitrogen and carbon estimation where, nitrogen varies from 20 to 60mg/100ml while carbohydrates showed no considerable variation (2.32 to 3.96 g/100 ml). In this study, we also employed TCW as an expression media for recombinant proteins by demonstrating successful expression of maltose binding protein (MBP), MBP-TEV protease fusion and a photo switchable fluorescent protein (mEos2) using TCW and the expression level was found to be equivalent to Luria Broth (LB).

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Oxygen, Bacteria, Recombinant DNA, Escherichia coli, Nitrogen, Coconut


Diabetes and its concurrent complications impact a significant proportion of the population of the US and create a large financial burden on the American health care system. FDA-approved maggot debridement therapy (MDT), the application of sterile laboratory-reared Lucilia sericata (green bottle fly) larvae to wounds, is a cost-effective and successful treatment for diabetic foot ulcers and other medical conditions. Human platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) is a secreted dimeric peptide growth factor that binds the PDGF receptor. PDGF-BB stimulates cell proliferation and survival, promotes wound healing, and has been investigated as a possible topical treatment for non-healing wounds. Genetic engineering has allowed for expression and secretion of human growth factors and other proteins in transgenic insects. Here, we present a novel concept in MDT technology that combines the established benefits of MDT with the power of genetic engineering to promote healing. The focus of this study is to create and characterize strains of transgenic L. sericata that express and secrete PDGF-BB at detectable levels in adult hemolymph, whole larval lysate, and maggot excretions/ secretions (ES), with potential for clinical utility in wound healing.

Concepts: Cell, Signal transduction, Wound healing, Secretion, Endoplasmic reticulum, Calliphoridae, Platelet-derived growth factor, Green bottle fly


BACKGROUND: Food industries aim to replace trans fat in their products by formulations having equivalent functionality and economic viability. Enzymatic transesterification can be a technological option to produce trans free fats targeting commercial applications. RESULTS: Palm stearin and palm olein blends in different ratios were enzymatically transesterified in a solvent free system using a Rhizopus oryzae lipase immobilised onto CaCO3 to produce a suitable fat for margarine formulation. Slip melting points and triacylglycerols profiles were evaluated upon transesterification. Results indicated that all transesterified blends had lower slip melting points than their non transesterified counterparts. Furthermore, the triacylglycerols profile showed a decrease in the concentration of the high melting point triacylglycerols. The rheological analysis showed that margarine prepared with the transesterified blend showed a better spreadability than that of a control margarine prepared with non transesterified fat. Adding powder of dry bark orange to margarine preparation improved its colour and fairly affected its spreadability and rheological behaviour. The margarine prepared with transesterified fat displayed a rheological behaviour that was comparable to that of commercial sample. CONCLUSIONS: This study is an ecofriendly approach to the utilization of relatively low value bioresources like palm stearin and palm olein for making margarine free of trans fatty acids that are now implicated as risk factor for heart diseases.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fat, Hydrogenation, Butter, Lipid, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Margarine


BACKGROUND: Aspergillus niger was selected as a host for producing itaconic acid due to its versatile and tolerant character in various growth environments, and its extremely high capacity of accumulating the precursor of itaconic acid: citric acid. Expressing the CAD gene from Aspergillus terreus opened the metabolic pathway towards itaconic acid in A. niger. In order to increase the production level, we continued by modifying its genome and optimizing cultivation media. RESULTS: Based on the results of previous transcriptomics studies and research from other groups, two genes : gpdA encoding the glyceraldehyde [MINUS SIGN]3-dehydrogenase (GPD) and hbd1 encoding a flavohemoglobin domain (HBD) were overexpressed in A. niger. Besides, new media were designed based on a reference medium for A. terreus. To analyze large numbers of cultures, we developed an approach for screening both fungal transformants and various media in 96-well micro-titer plates. The hbd1 transformants (HBD 2.2/2.5) did not improve itaconic acid titer while the gpdA transformant (GPD 4.3) decreased the itaconic acid production. Using 20 different media, copper was discovered to have a positive influence on itaconic acid production. Effects observed in the micro-titer plate screening were confirmed in controlled batch fermentation. CONCLUSIONS: The performance of gpdA and hbd1 transformants was found not to be beneficial for itaconic acid production using the tested cultivation conditions. Medium optimization showed that, copper was positively correlated with improved itaconic acid production. Interestingly, the optimal conditions for itaconic acid clearly differ from conditions optimal for citric- and oxalic acid production.

Concepts: Acid, Carboxylic acid, Citric acid cycle, Citric acid, Aspergillus, Vinegar, Oxalic acid, Aspergillus niger


The safety of mutagenized and genetically transformed plants remains a subject of scrutiny. Data gathered and communicated on the phenotypic and molecular variation induced by gene transfer technologies will provide a scientific-based means to rationally address such concerns. In this study, genomic structural variation (e.g. large deletions and duplications) and single nucleotide polymorphism rates were assessed among a sample of soybean cultivars, fast neutron-derived mutants, and five genetically transformed plants developed through Agrobacterium based transformation methods.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Evolution, Molecular biology, Genome, Horizontal gene transfer


Cell therapies are an emerging form of healthcare that offer significant potential to improve the practice of medicine and provide benefits to patients who currently have limited or no treatment options. Ideally, these innovative therapies can complement existing small molecule, biologic and device approaches, forming a so-called fourth pillar of medicine and allowing clinicians to identify the best treatment approach for each patient. Despite this potential, cell therapies are substantially more complex than small molecule or biologic interventions. This complexity poses challenges for scientists and firms developing cell therapies and regulators seeking to oversee this growing area of medicine.

Concepts: DNA, Health care provider, Medicine, Hospital, Physician, Illness, Doctor-patient relationship, Emergence