October 23, 2019  |  

Improved production of propionic acid using genome shuffling.

Traditionally derived from fossil fuels, biological production of propionic acid has recently gained interest. Propionibacterium species produce propionic acid as their main fermentation product. Production of other organic acids reduces propionic acid yield and productivity, pointing to by-products gene-knockout strategies as a logical solution to increase yield. However, removing by-product formation has seen limited success due to our inability to genetically engineer the best producing strains (i.e. Propionibacterium acidipropionici). To overcome this limitation, random mutagenesis continues to be the best path towards improving strains for biological propionic acid production. Recent advances in next generation sequencing opened new avenues to understand improved strains. In this work, we use genome shuffling on two wild type strains to generate a better propionic acid producing strain. Using next generation sequencing, we mapped the genomic changes leading to the improved phenotype. The best strain produced 25% more propionic acid than the wild type strain. Sequencing of the strains showed that genomic changes were restricted to single point mutations and gene duplications in well-conserved regions in the genomes. Such results confirm the involvement of gene conversion in genome shuffling as opposed to long genomic insertions. © 2016 The Authors. Biotechnology Journal published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


September 22, 2019  |  

Universal alternative splicing of noncoding exons.

The human transcriptome is so large, diverse, and dynamic that, even after a decade of investigation by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), we have yet to resolve its true dimensions. RNA-seq suffers from an expression-dependent bias that impedes characterization of low-abundance transcripts. We performed targeted single-molecule and short-read RNA-seq to survey the transcriptional landscape of a single human chromosome (Hsa21) at unprecedented resolution. Our analysis reaches the lower limits of the transcriptome, identifying a fundamental distinction between protein-coding and noncoding gene content: almost every noncoding exon undergoes alternative splicing, producing a seemingly limitless variety of isoforms. Analysis of syntenic regions of the mouse genome shows that few noncoding exons are shared between human and mouse, yet human splicing profiles are recapitulated on Hsa21 in mouse cells, indicative of regulation by a deeply conserved splicing code. We propose that noncoding exons are functionally modular, with alternative splicing generating an enormous repertoire of potential regulatory RNAs and a rich transcriptional reservoir for gene evolution. Crown Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Effect of plasmid design and type of integration event on recombinant protein expression in Pichia pastoris.

Pichia pastoris (syn. Komagataella phaffii) is one of the most common eukaryotic expression systems for heterologous protein production. Expression cassettes are typically integrated in the genome to obtain stable expression strains. In contrast to Saccharomyces cerevisiae, where short overhangs are sufficient to target highly specific integration, long overhangs are more efficient in P. pastoris and ectopic integration of foreign DNA can occur. Here, we aimed to elucidate the influence of ectopic integration by high-throughput screening of >700 transformants and whole-genome sequencing of 27 transformants. Different vector designs and linearization approaches were used to mimic the most common integration events targeted in P. pastoris Fluorescence of an enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) reporter protein was highly uniform among transformants when the expression cassettes were correctly integrated in the targeted locus. Surprisingly, most nonspecifically integrated transformants showed highly uniform expression that was comparable to specific integration, suggesting that nonspecific integration does not necessarily influence expression. However, a few clones (<10%) harboring ectopically integrated cassettes showed a greater variation spanning a 25-fold range, surpassing specifically integrated reference strains up to 6-fold. High-expression strains showed a correlation between increased gene copy numbers and high reporter protein fluorescence levels. Our results suggest that for comparing expression levels between strains, the integration locus can be neglected as long as a sufficient numbers of transformed strains are compared. For expression optimization of highly expressible proteins, increasing copy number appears to be the dominant positive influence rather than the integration locus, genomic rearrangements, deletions, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).IMPORTANCE Yeasts are commonly used as biotechnological production hosts for proteins and metabolites. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, expression cassettes carrying foreign genes integrate highly specifically at the targeted sites in the genome. In contrast, cassettes often integrate at random genomic positions in nonconventional yeasts, such as Pichia pastoris (syn. Komagataella phaffii). Hence, cells from the same transformation event often behave differently, with significant clonal variation necessitating the screening of large numbers of strains. The importance of this study is that we systematically investigated the influence of integration events in more than 700 strains. Our findings provide novel insight into clonal variation in P. pastoris and, thus, how to avoid pitfalls and obtain reliable results. The underlying mechanisms may also play a role in other yeasts and hence could be generally relevant for recombinant yeast protein production strains. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Linking genotype and phenotype in an economically viable propionic acid biosynthesis process

Propionic acid (PA) is used as a food preservative and increasingly, as a precursor for the synthesis of monomers. PA is produced mainly through hydrocarboxylation of ethylene, also known as the `oxo-process’; however, Propionibacterium species are promising biological PA producers natively producing PA as their main fermentation product. However, for fermentation to be competitive, a PA yield of at least 0.6 g/g is required.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome sequence of Propionibacterium acidipropionici ATCC 55737.

Propionibacterium acidipropionici produces propionic acid as its main fermentation product. Traditionally derived from fossil fuels, environmental and sustainable issues have revived the interest in producing propionic acid using biological resources. Here, we present the closed sequence of Propionibacterium acidipropionici ATCC 55737, an efficient propionic acid producer. Copyright © 2016 Luna-Flores et al.


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