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Journal: Journal of biotechnology


Innate Defense Regulators (IDRs) are short synthetic peptides that target the host innate immune system via an intracellular adaptor protein which functions at key signaling nodes. In this work, further details of the mechanism of action of IDRs have been discovered. The studies reported here show that the lead clinical IDR, SGX94, has broad-spectrum activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial infections caused by intracellular or extracellular bacteria and also complements the actions of standard of care antibiotics. Based on in vivo and primary cell culture studies, this activity is shown to result from the primary action of SGX94 on tissue-resident cells and subsequent secondary signaling to activate myeloid-derived cells, resulting in enhanced bacterial clearance and increased survival. Data from non-clinical and clinical studies also show that SGX94 treatment modulates pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine levels, thereby mitigating the deleterious inflammatory consequences of innate immune activation. Since they act through host pathways to provide both broad-spectrum anti-infective capability as well as control of inflammation, IDRs are unlikely to be impacted by resistance mechanisms and offer potential clinical advantages in the fight against emerging and antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Microbiology, Virus, Innate immune system, Infection, Antibiotic resistance


Dusquetide, a novel Innate Defense Regulator, modulates the innate immune system at a key convergence point in intracellular signaling pathways and has demonstrated activity in both reducing inflammation and increasing clearance of bacterial infection. Innate immunity has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of oral mucositis (OM), a universal toxicity of chemoradiation therapy (CRT). Testing the hypothesis that dusquetide can mitigate the development and duration of OM, preclinical studies have been completed and correlated with interim results from a Phase 2 clinical study in patients undergoing CRT for head and neck cancer. Dusquetide reduced the duration of OM in mouse and hamster models by approximately 50%, which was recapitulated by the 50% reduction of severe OM (SOM) in the Phase 2 trial. A reduction in the clinical rate of infection was also observed, consistent with previously reported preclinical studies. In aggregate, these results not only demonstrate the safety and efficacy of dusquetide in addressing this unmet medical need, but also provide proof of concept for the translation of dusquetide action between animal models and the human clinical setting, and further support the contention that innate immunity is an important driver for the initiation and continued impact of OM.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Signal transduction, Virus, Innate immune system, Immunity, Pre-clinical development


Mammalian cell lines are characterized by a complex and flexible metabolism. A single model that could describe the variations in metabolic behavior triggered by variations in the culture conditions would be a precious tool in bioprocess development. In this paper, we introduce an approach to generate a poly-pathway model and use it to simulate diverse metabolic states triggered in response to removal, reduction or doubling of amino acids in the culture medium of an antibody-producing CHO cell line. Macro-reactions were obtained from a metabolic network via elementary flux mode enumeration and the fluxes were modeled by kinetic equations with saturation and inhibition effects from external medium components. Importantly, one set of kinetic parameters was estimated using experimental data of the multiple metabolic states. A good fit between the model and the data was obtained for the majority of the metabolites and the experimentally observed flux variations. We find that the poly-pathway modeling approach is promising for the simulation of multiple metabolic states.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Ammonia, Metabolism, Cell culture, Chinese hamster ovary cell, Cell lines


Streptavidin is a tetrameric protein with an extremely high affinity to biotin and different biotin-like peptide-tags. This characteristic causes its widespread use in biotechnology. Streptavidin is produced by the fermentation of wild type Streptomyces avidinii or by recombinant Streptomyces lavendulae, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis strains. However, little is known about the influence of power input and oxygen supply as well as feeding strategies on the production of streptavidin by S. avidinii. This paper provides a systematic analysis of the effect of rotary frequency of the stirrer, leading to a plateau-like streptavidin formation behaviour between 400 and 700min(-1). This plateau was characterized by specific power inputs between 79 and 107WL(-1) and corresponding maximal product concentrations of 6.90μM in 6 days. Lower as well as higher rotary frequencies were not beneficial. Subsequently, a linear fed-batch procedure could be established reproducibly yielding 39.20μM streptavidin in 14 days, characterized by a constant productivity of 114nMh(-1). Fed-batch procedures based on dissolved oxygen were less efficient. The linear feeding strategy presented in this paper led to the highest streptavidin concentration ever reported and exceeded the maximal product level given in the literature drastically by a factor of 8.5.

Concepts: Protein, Oxygen, Bacteria, Escherichia coli, Biotechnology, Bacillus, Bacillus subtilis, Input


Arsenic is a toxic metalloid and recognized carcinogen. Arsenate and arsenite are the most common arsenic species available for uptake by plants. As an inorganic phosphate (Pi) analog, arsenate is acquired by plant roots through endogenous Pi transport systems. Inside the cell, arsenate is reduced to the thiol-reactive form arsenite. Glutathione (GSH)-conjugates of arsenite may be extruded from the cell or sequestered in vacuoles by members of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family of transporters. In the present study we sought to enhance both plant arsenic uptake through Pi transporter overexpression, and plant arsenic tolerance through ABC transporter overexpression. We demonstrate that Arabidopsis thaliana plants overexpressing the high-affinity Pi transporter family members, AtPht1;1 or AtPht1;7, are hypersensitive to arsenate due to increased arsenate uptake. These plants do not exhibit increased sensitivity to arsenite. Co-overexpression of the yeast ABC transporter YCF1 in combination with AtPht1;1 or AtPht1;7 suppresses the arsenate-sensitive phenotype while further enhancing arsenic uptake. Taken together, our results support an arsenic transport mechanism in which arsenate uptake is increased through Pi transporter overexpression, and arsenic tolerance is enhanced through YCF1-mediated vacuolar sequestration. This work substantiates the viability of coupling enhanced uptake and vacuolar sequestration as a means for developing a prototypical engineered arsenic hyperaccumulator.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plant, Botany, Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Transport, Root, Arsenic


Numerous aromatic plant species produce high levels of monoterpenols, using geranyl diphosphate (GPP) as a precursor. Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) geraniol synthase (GES) was used to evaluate the monoterpenol profiles arising from heterologous expressions in various plant models. Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) calli were transformed using Agrobacterium tumefasciens and the plants were regenerated. Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) was transformed using the floral dip method. Tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) leaves were agro-infiltrated for transient expression. Although, as expected, geraniol was the main product detected in the leaves, different minor products were observed in these plants (V. vinifera: citronellol and nerol; N. benthamiana: linalool and nerol; A. thaliana: none). O. basilicum GES expression was also carried out with microbial system yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and Escherichia coli. These results suggest that the functional properties of a monoterpenol synthase depend not only on the enzyme’s amino-acidic sequence, but also on the cellular background. They also suggest that some plant species or microbial expression systems could induce the simultaneous formation of several carbocations, and could thus have a natural tendency to produce a wider spectrum of monoterpenols.

Concepts: Genome, Fungus, Model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Annual plant, Basil, Ocimum basilicum


Stem cell production systems need elaborate monitoring and control for meeting requirements on the final cell product. In this article, the use of biomechatronic design methodology for supporting these efforts is described. Biomechatronic design, which is based on a fundamental systematical design approach originating from mechanical engineering, is here applied for investigating how monitoring and control systems can be configured in stem cell manufacturing processes. Results are provided that demonstrate how the biomechatronic design tools are used to compare different process analytical instrumentation resulting in a design layout for the monitoring system for derivation of hepatocytes from human embryonic stem cells. The results can be extrapolated to other stem cell production processes using the same methodology.

Concepts: Cell division, Stem cell, Engineering, Embryonic stem cell, Mechanical engineering, Design, Manufacturing, Mechatronics


C1 inhibitor (C1INH) is a single-chain glycoprotein that inhibits activation of the contact system of coagulation and the complement system. C1INH isolated from human blood plasma (pd-hC1INH) is used for the management of hereditary angioedema (HAE), a disease caused by heterozygous deficiency of C1INH, and is a promise for treatment of ischemia-reperfusion injuries like acute myocardial or cerebral infarction. To obtain large quantities of C1INH, recombinant human C1INH (rhC1INH) was expressed in the milk of transgenic rabbits (12g/l) harboring genomic human C1INH sequences fused to 5' bovine αS(1) casein promoter sequences. Recombinant hC1INH was isolated from milk to a specific activity of 6.1U/mg and a purity of 99%; by size-exclusion chromatography the 1% impurities consisted of multimers and N-terminal cleaved C1INH species. Mass spectrometric analysis of purified rhC1INH revealed a relative molecular mass (M®) of 67,200. Differences in M® on SDS PAGE and mass spectrometric analysis between rhC1INH and pd-hC1INH are explained by differential glycosylation (calculated carbohydrate contents of 21% and 28%, respectively), since protein sequencing analysis of rhC1INH revealed intact N- and C-termini. Host-related impurity analysis by ELISA revealed trace amounts of rabbit protein (approximately 10ppm) in purified batches, but not endogenous rabbit C1INH. The kinetics of inhibition of the target proteases C1s, Factor XIIa, kallikrein and Factor XIa by rhC1INH and pd-hC1INH, indicated comparable inhibitory potency and specificity. Recently, rhC1INH (Ruconest(®)) has been approved by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of acute attacks of HAE.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Blood, Coagulation, Complement system, Glycosylation, Angioedema, Hereditary angioedema, C1-inhibitor


Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen, with methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and multi-drug resistant strains becoming increasingly prevalent in both human and veterinary clinics. S. aureus causing bovine mastitis yields high annual losses to the dairy industry. Conventional treatment of mastitis by broad range antibiotics is often not successful and may contribute to development of antibiotic resistance. Bacteriophage endolysins present a promising new source of antimicrobials. The endolysin of prophage ΦSH2 of Staphylococcus haemolyticus strain JCSC1435 (ΦSH2 lysin) is a peptidoglycan hydrolase consisting of two catalytic domains (CHAP and amidase) and an SH3b cell wall binding domain. In this work, we demonstrated its lytic activity against live staphylococcal cells and investigated the contribution of each functional module to bacterial lysis by testing a series of deletion constructs in zymograms and turbidity reduction assays. The CHAP domain exhibited three-fold higher activity than the full length protein and optimum activity in physiological saline. This activity was further enhanced by the presence of bivalent calcium ions. The SH3b domain was shown to be required for full activity of the complete ΦSH2 lysin. The full length enzyme and the CHAP domain showed activity against multiple staphylococcal strains, including MRSA strains, mastitis isolates, and CoNS.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, Staphylococcus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Penicillin, Staphylococcaceae


The production of 1,3-propanediol (PD) by a newly isolated Citrobacter freundii strain [FMCC-B 294 (VK-19] was investigated. Different grades of biodiesel-derived glycerol were employed. Slightly lower PD biosynthesis was observed in batch experiments only when crude glycerol from waste-cooking oil trans-esterification was utilized and only at elevated initial substrate concentrations employed. Batch bioreactor cultures revealed the capability of the strain to tolerate elevated amounts of substrate (glycerol up to 170g/L) and produce quantities of PD in such high substrate concentrations. Nevertheless, maximum PD quantities (45.9g/L) were achieved at lower initial glycerol concentrations (∼100g/L) employed, suggesting some inhibition exerted due to the increased initial substrate concentrations. In order to improve PD production, a fed-batch fermentation was carried out and 68.1g/L of PD were produced (the highest PD quantity achieved by C. freundii strains so far) with yield per glycerol consumed ∼0.40g/g and volumetric productivity 0.79g/L/h. Aiming to perform a more economical and eco-friendlier procedure, batch and fed-batch fermentations under completely non-sterile conditions were carried out. During non-sterilized fed-batch process, 176g/L of raw glycerol were converted to 66.3g/L of PD, suggesting the potentiality of the non-sterile fermentation by C. freundii FMCC-B 294.

Concepts: Glycerol, Citrobacter, Fed-batch, Batch