Making bacteria make useful proteins

September 06, 2009

By adapting a single protein on the surface of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, researchers at the University of British Columbia have turned it into a protein production factory, making useful proteins that can act as vaccines and drugs. Dr. John Smit presented the findings at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, today (7 September).

C. crescentus is a harmless bacterium that has a single protein layer on its surface. Dr Smit's team adapted the system that secretes this protein, which self-assembles into a structure called the "S-layer", to secrete instead many proteins that are useful for vaccines and other therapeutic purposes. Or, by keeping the S-layer protein intact and genetically inserting new things inside it, they produce a very dense display of useful proteins on the cell surface and then expect to use the entire bacterium in a therapeutic application.

Bacteria are commonly used in biotechnology to produce useful protein products. If the bacteria secrete the protein rather than keep it contained within the cell, purification costs are greatly lowered. The researchers have developed a commercially available kit based on this technology, which could be especially useful in developing countries as it might be used to manufacture HIV-blocking agents very cheaply and with little specialist expertise.

"This S-layer system is very efficient at producing and secreting proteins - we can make the bacterium into a protein pump, secreting over half of all the protein it makes as engineered S-layer protein," said Dr Smit, "Applications of S-layer display that we are currently developing include anti-cancer vaccines, an HIV infection blocker and agents to treat Crohn's and colitis, and diarrhoea in malnourished populations".
-end-


Microbiology Society

Related Bacterium Articles from Brightsurf:

Root bacterium to fight Alzheimer's
A bacterium found among the soil close to roots of ginseng plants could provide a new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's.

Tuberculosis bacterium uses sluice to import vitamins
A transport protein that is used by the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis to import vitamin B12 turns out to be very different from other transport proteins.

Bacterium makes complex loops
A scientific team from the Biosciences and Biotechnology Institute of Aix-Marseille in Saint-Paul lez Durance, in collaboration with researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and the University of Göttingen, determined the trajectory and swimming speed of the magnetotactic bacterium Magnetococcus marinus, known to move rapidly.

Researchers show how opportunistic bacterium defeats competitors
The researchers discovered that Stenotrophomonas maltophilia uses a secretion system that produces a cocktail of toxins and injects them into other microorganisms with which it competes for space and food.

Genetic typing of a bacterium with biotechnological potential
Researchers at Kanazawa University describe in Scientific Reports the genetic typing of the bacterium Pseudomonas putida.

How the strep bacterium hides from the immune system
A bacterial pathogen that causes strep throat and other illnesses cloaks itself in fragments of red blood cells to evade detection by the host immune system, according to a study publishing December 3 in the journal Cell Reports.

The cholera bacterium can steal up to 150 genes in one go
EPFL scientists have discovered that predatory bacteria like the cholera pathogen can steal up to 150 genes in one go from their neighbors.

Exploiting green tides thanks to a marine bacterium
Ulvan is the principal component of Ulva or 'sea lettuce' which causes algal blooms (green tides).

The cholera bacterium's 3-in-1 toolkit for life in the ocean
The cholera bacterium uses a grappling hook-like appendage to take up DNA, bind to nutritious surfaces and recognize 'family' members, EPFL scientists have found.

Excellent catering: How a bacterium feeds an entire flatworm
In the sandy bottom of warm coastal waters lives Paracatenula -- a small worm that has neither mouth, nor gut.

Read More: Bacterium News and Bacterium Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.