Genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) have been developed and used in guiding systems' metabolic engineering strategies for strain design and development. This strategy has been used in fermentative production of bio-based industrial chemicals and fuels from alternative carbon sources. However, computer-aided hypotheses building using established algorithms and software platforms for biological discovery can be integrated into the pipeline for strain design strategy to create superior strains of microorganisms for targeted biosynthetic goals. Here, I described an integrated workflow strategy using GEMs for strain design and biological discovery. Specific case studies of strain design and biological discovery using Escherichia coli genome-scale model are presented and discussed. The integrated workflow presented herein, when applied carefully would help guide future design strategies for high-performance microbial strains that have existing and forthcoming genome-scale metabolic models.
Over the last 20 years in biotechnology, the production of recombinant proteins has been a crucial bioprocess in both biopharmaceutical and research arena in terms of human health, scientific impact and economic volume. Although logical strategies of genetic engineering have been established, protein overexpression is still an art. In particular, heterologous expression is often hindered by low level of production and frequent fail due to opaque reasons. The problem is accentuated because there is no generic solution available to enhance heterologous overexpression. For a given protein, the extent of its solubility can indicate the quality of its function. Over 30% of synthesized proteins are not soluble. In certain experimental circumstances, including temperature, expression host, etc., protein solubility is a feature eventually defined by its sequence. Until now, numerous methods based on machine learning are proposed to predict the solubility of protein merely from its amino acid sequence. In spite of the 20 years of research on the matter, no comprehensive review is available on the published methods.
Microbial strain optimization focuses on improving technological properties of the strain of microorganisms. However, the complexities of the metabolic networks, which lead to data ambiguity, often cause genetic modification on the desirable phenotypes difficult to predict. Furthermore, vast number of reactions in cellular metabolism lead to the combinatorial problem in obtaining optimal gene deletion strategy. Consequently, the computation time increases exponentially with the increase in the size of the problem. Hence, we propose an extension of a hybrid of Bees Algorithm and Flux Balance Analysis (BAFBA) by integrating OptKnock into BAFBA to validate the result. This paper presents a number of computational experiments to test on the performance and capability of BAFBA. Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Clostridium thermocellum are the model organisms in this paper. Also included is the identification of potential reactions to improve the production of succinic acid, lactic acid and ethanol, plus the discussion on the changes in the flux distribution of the predicted mutants. BAFBA shows potential in suggesting the non-intuitive gene knockout strategies and a low variability among the several runs. The results show that BAFBA is suitable, reliable and applicable in predicting optimal gene knockout strategy.
Microbial strain optimisation for the overproduction of a desired phenotype has been a popular topic in recent years. Gene knockout is a genetic engineering technique that can modify the metabolism of microbial cells to obtain desirable phenotypes. Optimisation algorithms have been developed to identify the effects of gene knockout. However, the complexities of metabolic networks have made the process of identifying the effects of genetic modification on desirable phenotypes challenging. Furthermore, a vast number of reactions in cellular metabolism often lead to a combinatorial problem in obtaining optimal gene knockout. The computational time increases exponentially as the size of the problem increases. This work reports an extension of Bees Hill Flux Balance Analysis (BHFBA) to identify optimal gene knockouts to maximise the production yield of desired phenotypes while sustaining the growth rate. This proposed method functions by integrating OptKnock into BHFBA for validating the results automatically. The results show that the extension of BHFBA is suitable, reliable, and applicable in predicting gene knockout. Through several experiments conducted on Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Clostridium thermocellum as model organisms, extension of BHFBA has shown better performance in terms of computational time, stability, growth rate, and production yield of desired phenotypes.
Seven (6.1%) of 115 strains of Salmonella typhi isolated from Malaysian patients harbored a single large plasmid of 71 to 166 mD. Two of the seven plasmid-bearing strains were resistant to chloramphenicol (Cm) and tetracycline (Tc) and they transferred Cm and Tc resistance traits to Escherichia coli K12 at frequencies from 1.6 x 10(-7) to 1.9 x 10(-6). Agarose gel electrophoresis provided evidence that the resistance traits were cotransferred on a conjugative plasmid. The significance and importance of these results are discussed.
Neonatal Fc-receptor (FcRn) with its affinity to immunoglobulin G (IgG) has been the subject of many pharmacokinetic studies in the past century. This protein is well known for its unique feature in maintaining the circulating IgG from degradation in blood plasma. FcRn is formed by non-covalent association between the α-chain with the β-2-microglobulin (β2m). Many studies have been conducted to produce FcRn in the laboratory, mainly using mammalian tissue culture as host for recombinant protein expression. In this study, we demonstrate a novel strategy to express the α-chain of FcRn using Escherichia coli as the expression host. The expression vector that carries the cDNA of the α-chain was transformed into expression host, Rosetta-gami 2 strain for inducible expression. The bacterial culture was grown in a modified growth medium which constitutes of terrific broth, sodium chloride (NaCl), glucose and betaine. A brief heat shock at 45 °C was carried out after induction, before the temperature for expression was reduced to 22 °C and grown for 16 h. The soluble form of the α-chain of FcRn expressed was tested in the ELISA and dot blot immunoassay to confirm its native functionality. The results implied that the α-chain of FcRn expressed using this method is functional and retains its pH-dependent affinity to IgG. Our study significantly suggests that the activity of human FcRn remain active and functional in the absence of β2m.
Co-expression of multiple proteins is increasingly essential for synthetic biology, studying protein-protein complexes, and characterizing and harnessing biosynthetic pathways. In this manuscript, the use of a highly effective system for the construction of multigene synthetic operons under the control of an inducible T7 RNA polymerase is described. This system allows many genes to be expressed simultaneously from one plasmid. Here, a set of four related vectors, pMGX-A, pMGX-hisA, pMGX-K, and pMGX-hisK, with either the ampicillin or kanamycin resistance selectable marker (A and K) and either possessing or lacking an N-terminal hexahistidine tag (his) are disclosed. Detailed protocols for the construction of synthetic operons using this vector system are provided along with the corresponding data, showing that a pMGX-based system containing five genes can be readily constructed and used to produce all five encoded proteins in Escherichia coli. This system and protocol enables researchers to routinely express complex multi-component modules and pathways in E. coli.
This article comparatively reports the workability of Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) and Pseudomonas putida KT2440 cell factories for the expression of three model autodisplayed cellulases (i.e., endoglucanase, BsCel5A; exoglucanase, CelK; β-glucosidase, BglA). The differentiation of the recombinant cells was restricted to their cell growth and enzyme expression/activity attributes. Comparatively, the recombinant E. coli showed higher cell growth rates but lower enzyme activities than the recombinant P. putida. However, the endo-, exoglucanase, and β-glucosidase on the surfaces of both cell factories showed activity over a broad range of pH (4-10) and temperature (30-100 °C). The pH and temperature optima were pH 6, 60 °C (BsCel5A); pH 6, 60-70 °C (CelK); and pH 6, 50 °C (BglA). Overall, the P. putida cell factory with autodisplayed enzymes demonstrated higher bioactivity and remarkable biochemical characteristics and thus was chosen for the saccharification of filter paper. A volumetric blend of the three cellulases with P. putida as the host yielded a ratio of 1:1:1.5 of endoglucanase, exoglucanase, and β-glucosidase, respectively, as the optimum blend composition for filter paper degradation. At an optical density (578 nm) of 50, the blend generated a maximum sugar yield of about 0.7 mg/ml (~ 0.08 U/g) from Whatman filter paper (Ø 6 mm, ~ 2.5 mg) within 24 h.
Being an important regulator of cell growth and survival, a point mutation at glycine-12 residue of Kras4B to valine (V), renders Kras4BG12V oncogenic. Kras4B recombinant protein is used as a bait to fish its potential ligands in the attempt of drugging this oncoprotein and to validate its pharmacologically relevant ligand in protein-ligand interaction studies. Nevertheless, synthesis of Kras4B recombinant protein is challenging as it was reported being susceptible to aggregation into inclusion bodies in the bacterial host, resulting in a poor yield of recombinant protein. Here, we describe a novel method to produce native Kras4BG12V protein by using pET SUMO protein expression system as a solution to the formation of inclusion bodies. Kras4BG12V oncogene was cloned into pET SUMO vector, followed by a 12 h chemically induced protein expression in Escherichia coli at 20 °C. Native Kras4BG12V protein was produced in a series of protein purification steps involving immobilised nickel ion-affinity column chromatography, SUMO fusion protein and polyhistidine tag removal, and size exclusion column chromatography. The identity of the purified Kras4BG12V protein was validated by immunoblot analysis. The purified protein exhibited self-dimerising, indicating that the purified protein structurally resembles Kras4B. Its physical interaction with 4,6-dichloro-2-methyl-3-aminoethyl-indole (DCAI), a known binder of Kras4B, confirms the identity of the purified protein as Kras4BG12V. The native Kras4BG12V protein was successfully purified in a substantial amount by using the pET SUMO protein expression system.
Three transition metal derivatives (Zn, Cu, and Ni) of 2-[2-bromoethyliminomethyl]-4-[ethoxymethyl]phenol (L) were synthesized by the reaction of the metal salts with the Schiff base ligand in one pot. In the crystal structure of [Zn(L)Br], the Schiff base ligand binds to the metal center through its phenolate oxygen and imine nitrogen, and adopts a distorted tetrahedral geometry. These compounds were found to inhibit topoisomerase I (topo I) activity, induce DNA cleavage and show DNA binding activity. Moreover, these compounds were found to be cytotoxic towards several cancer cell lines (A2780, MCF-7, HT29, HepG2, A549, PC3, LNCaP) and prevent metastasis of PC3. Collectively, Cu(II) complex 2 shows superior activity relative to its Zn(II) and Ni(II) analogs.
Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng is an aromatic medicinal herb known for its therapeutic and nutritional properties attributed by the presence of monoterpene and sesquiterpene compounds. Up until now, research on terpenoid biosynthesis has focused on a few mint species with economic importance such as thyme and oregano, yet the terpene synthases responsible for monoterpene production in P. amboinicus have not been described. Here we report the isolation, heterologous expression and functional characterization of a terpene synthase involved in P. amboinicus terpenoid biosynthesis. A putative monoterpene synthase gene (PamTps1) from P. amboinicus was isolated with an open reading frame of 1797 bp encoding a predicted protein of 598 amino acids with molecular weight of 69.6 kDa. PamTps1 shares 60-70% amino acid sequence similarity with other known terpene synthases of Lamiaceae. The in vitro enzymatic activity of PamTps1 demonstrated the conversion of geranyl pyrophosphate and farnesyl pyrophosphate exclusively into linalool and nerolidol, respectively, and thus PamTps1 was classified as a linalool/nerolidol synthase. In vivo activity of PamTps1 in a recombinant Escherichia coli strain revealed production of linalool and nerolidol which correlated with its in vitro activity. This outcome validated the multi-substrate usage of this enzyme in producing linalool and nerolidol both in in vivo and in vitro systems. The transcript level of PamTps1 was prominent in the leaf during daytime as compared to the stem. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and quantitative real-time PCR analyses showed that maximal linalool level was released during the daytime and lower at night following a diurnal circadian pattern which correlated with the PamTps1 expression pattern. The PamTps1 cloned herein provides a molecular basis for the terpenoid biosynthesis in this local herb that could be exploited for valuable production using metabolic engineering in both microbial and plant systems.
E. coli has been engineered to produce xylitol, but the production faces bottlenecks in terms of production yield and cell viability. In this study, recombinant E. coli (rE. coli) was immobilized on untreated and treated multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) for xylitol production. The immobilized rE. coli on untreated MWCNTs gave the highest xylitol production (5.47 g L-1) and a productivity of 0.22 g L-1 h-1. The doubling time for the immobilized cells increased up to 20.40 h and was higher than that of free cells (3.67 h). Cell lysis of the immobilized cells was reduced by up to 73 %, and plasmid stability improved by up to 17 % compared to those of free cells. Xylitol production using the optimum parameters (pH 7.4, 0.005 mM and 29 °C) achieved a xylitol production and productivity of 6.33 g L-1 and 0.26 g L-1 h-1, respectively. A seven-cycle repeated batch fermentation was carried out for up to 168 h, which showed maximum xylitol production of 7.36 g L-1 during the third cycle. Hence, this new adsorption immobilization system using MWCNTs is an alternative to improve the production of xylitol.
We have successfully developed a Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay that could specifically detect generic Escherichia coli (E. coli). This assay was tested on 85 bacterial strains and successfully identified 54 E. coli strains (average threshold time, Tt = 21.26). The sensitivity of this assay was evaluated on serial dilutions of bacterial cultures and spiked faeces. The assay could detect 10(2) CFU/mL for bacterial culture with Tt = 33.30 while the detection limit for spiked faeces was 10(3) CFU/mL (Tt = 31.12). We have also detected 46 generic E. coli from 50 faecal samples obtained from indigenous individuals with 16% of the positive samples being verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) positive. VT1/VT2 allele was present in one faecal sample while the ratio of VT1 to VT2 was 6 : 1. Overall, our study had demonstrated high risk of VTEC infection among the indigenous community and most of the asymptomatic infection occurred among those aged below 15 years. The role of asymptomatic human carriers as a source of dissemination should not be underestimated. Large scale screening of the VTEC infection among indigenous populations and the potential contamination sources will be possible and easy with the aid of this newly developed rapid and simple LAMP assay.
Microbial strains optimization for the overproduction of desired phenotype has been a popular topic in recent years. The strains can be optimized through several techniques in the field of genetic engineering. Gene knockout is a genetic engineering technique that can engineer the metabolism of microbial cells with the objective to obtain desirable phenotypes. However, the complexities of the metabolic networks have made the process to identify the effects of genetic modification on the desirable phenotypes challenging. Furthermore, a vast number of reactions in cellular metabolism often lead to the combinatorial problem in obtaining optimal gene deletion strategy. Basically, the size of a genome-scale metabolic model is usually large. As the size of the problem increases, the computation time increases exponentially. In this paper, we propose Differential Bees Flux Balance Analysis (DBFBA) with OptKnock to identify optimal gene knockout strategies for maximizing the production yield of desired phenotypes while sustaining the growth rate. This proposed method functions by improving the performance of a hybrid of Bees Algorithm and Flux Balance Analysis (BAFBA) by hybridizing Differential Evolution (DE) algorithm into neighborhood searching strategy of BAFBA. In addition, DBFBA is integrated with OptKnock to validate the results for improving the reliability the work. Through several experiments conducted on Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Clostridium thermocellum as the model organisms, DBFBA has shown a better performance in terms of computational time, stability, growth rate, and production yield of desired phenotypes compared to the methods used in previous works.
When recombineering bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs), it is common practice to design the ends of the donor molecule with 50 bp of homology specifying its insertion site. We demonstrate that desired recombinants can be produced using intermolecular homologies as short as 15 bp. Although the use of shorter donor end regions decreases total recombinants by several fold, the frequency of recombinants with correctly inserted donor molecules was high enough for easy detection by simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening. This observation may have important implications for the design of oligonucleotides for recombineering, including significant cost savings, especially for high-throughput projects that use large quantities of primers.
This paper presents a study on gene knockout strategies to identify candidate genes to be knocked out for improving the production of succinic acid in Escherichia coli. Succinic acid is widely used as a precursor for many chemicals, for example production of antibiotics, therapeutic proteins and food. However, the chemical syntheses of succinic acid using the traditional methods usually result in the production that is far below their theoretical maximums. In silico gene knockout strategies are commonly implemented to delete the gene in E. coli to overcome this problem. In this paper, a hybrid of Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) and Minimization of Metabolic Adjustment (MoMA) is proposed to identify gene knockout strategies to improve the production of succinic acid in E. coli. As a result, the hybrid algorithm generated a list of knockout genes, succinic acid production rate and growth rate for E. coli after gene knockout. The results of the hybrid algorithm were compared with the previous methods, OptKnock and MOMAKnock. It was found that the hybrid algorithm performed better than OptKnock and MOMAKnock in terms of the production rate. The information from the results produced from the hybrid algorithm can be used in wet laboratory experiments to increase the production of succinic acid in E. coli.
Comparative whole-genome sequencing enables the identification of specific mutations during adaptation of bacteria to new environments and allelic replacement can establish their causality. However, the mechanisms of action are hard to decipher and little has been achieved for epistatic mutations, especially at the metabolic level. Here we show that a strain of Escherichia coli carrying mutations in the rpoC and glpK genes, derived from adaptation in glycerol, uses two distinct metabolic strategies to gain growth advantage. A 27-bp deletion in the rpoC gene first increases metabolic efficiency. Then, a point mutation in the glpK gene promotes growth by improving glycerol utilization but results in increased carbon wasting as overflow metabolism. In a strain carrying both mutations, these contrasting carbon/energy saving and wasting mechanisms work together to give an 89% increase in growth rate. This study provides insight into metabolic reprogramming during adaptive laboratory evolution for fast cellular growth.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli are one of the most common forms of human disease. In this study, the effect of the presence of newly acquired antibiotic resistance genes on biofilm formation of UTI-associated E. coli strains was examined. Two clinical UTI-associated E. coli strains (SMC18 and SMC20) carrying different combinations of virulence genes were transformed with pGEM-T, pGEM-T::KmΔAmp, or pGEM-T::Km to construct ampicillin-resistant (Km(S)Amp(R)), kanamycin-resistant (Km(R)Amp(S)), or ampicillin- and kanamycin-resistant (Km(R)Amp(R)) strains. Transformed and wild-type strains were characterized for biofilm formation, bacterial surface hydrophobicity, auto-aggregation, morphology, and attachment to abiotic surfaces. Transformation with a plasmid carrying an ampicillin resistance gene alone decreased (p < 0.05) biofilm formation by SMC18 (8 virulence marker genes) but increased (p < 0.05) biofilm formation by SMC20 (5 virulence marker genes). On the other hand, transformation with a plasmid carrying a kanamycin resistance gene alone or both ampicillin and kanamycin resistance genes resulted in a decrease (p < 0.05) in biofilm formation by SMC18 but did not affect (p > 0.05) the biofilm formation by SMC20. Our results suggest that transformation of UTI-associated E. coli with plasmids carrying different antibiotic resistance gene(s) had a significant impact on biofilm formation and that these effects were both strain dependent and varied between different antibiotics.
Pseudogenes are considered to be nonfunctional genes that lack a physiological role. By screening 3985 Escherichia coli mutants using chemochromic membranes, we found four pseudogenes involved in hydrogen metabolism. Knockouts of pseudogenes ydfW and ypdJ had a defective hydrogen phenotype on glucose and formate, respectively. Also, the knockout of pseudogene yqiG formed hydrogen from formate but not from glucose. For the yqiG mutant, 100% hydrogen recovery was obtained by the complementation of YqiG via a plasmid. The knockout of pseudogene ylcE showed hydrogen deficiency in minimal media which suggested that the role of YlcE is associated with cell growth. Hence, the products of these four pseudogenes play an important physiological role in hydrogen production in E. coli.