Predictive approaches to guide the expression of recombinant vaccine targets in Escherichia coli: a case study presentation utilising Absynth Biologics Ltd. proprietary Clostridium difficile vaccine antigens.
McKenzie, Edward A
Robinson, Andrew M
Gingles, Neill A
Dickson, Alan J; orcid: 0000-0001-9490-645X; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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AbstractBacterial expression systems remain a widely used host for recombinant protein production. However, overexpression of recombinant target proteins in bacterial systems such as Escherichia coli can result in poor solubility and the formation of insoluble aggregates. As a consequence, numerous strategies or alternative engineering approaches have been employed to increase recombinant protein production. In this case study, we present the strategies used to increase the recombinant production and solubility of 'difficult-to-express' bacterial antigens, termed Ant2 and Ant3, from Absynth Biologics Ltd.'s Clostridium difficile vaccine programme. Single recombinant antigens (Ant2 and Ant3) and fusion proteins (Ant2-3 and Ant3-2) formed insoluble aggregates (inclusion bodies) when overexpressed in bacterial cells. Further, proteolytic cleavage of Ant2-3 was observed. Optimisation of culture conditions and changes to the construct design to include N-terminal solubility tags did not improve antigen solubility. However, screening of different buffer/additives showed that the addition of 1-15 mM dithiothreitol alone decreased the formation of insoluble aggregates and improved the stability of both Ant2 and Ant3. Structural models were generated for Ant2 and Ant3, and solubility-based prediction tools were employed to determine the role of hydrophobicity and charge on protein production. The results showed that a large non-polar region (containing hydrophobic amino acids) was detected on the surface of Ant2 structures, whereas positively charged regions (containing lysine and arginine amino acids) were observed for Ant3, both of which were associated with poor protein solubility. We present a guide of strategies and predictive approaches that aim to guide the construct design, prior to expression studies, to define and engineer sequences/structures that could lead to increased expression and stability of single and potentially multi-domain (or fusion) antigens in bacterial expression systems.
CitationApplied microbiology and biotechnology
DescriptionFrom PubMed via Jisc Publications Router
History: received 2021-04-28, revised 2021-06-02, accepted 2021-06-08
Publication status: aheadofprint
Funder: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Grant(s): BB/P004237/1