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Heterologous expression of diverse barley XTH genes in the yeast Pichia pastoris

TitleHeterologous expression of diverse barley XTH genes in the yeast Pichia pastoris
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsKaewthai, N, Harvey, AJ, Hrmova, M, Brumer, H, Ezcurra, I, Teeri, TT, Fincher, GB
JournalPlant Biotechnology

Heterologous expression of plant genes, particularly those encoding carbohydrate-active enzymes such as glycoside hydrolases and glycosyl transferases, continues to be a major hurdle in the functional analysis of plant proteomes. Presently, there are few convenient systems for the production of recombinant plant enzymes in active form and at adequate levels for biochemical and structural characterization. The methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris is an attractive expression host due to its ease of manipulation and its capacity to perform post-translational protein modifications, such as N-glycosylation [Daly and Hearn (2005) J Mol Recognit 18: 119-138]. Here, we demonstrate the utility of the P. pastoris SMD1168H/pPICZ-alpha C system for the expression of a range of xyloglucan endo-transglycosylase/hydrolase (XTH) cDNAs from barley (Hordeum vulgare). Although stable transformants were readily obtained by positive selection for vector-induced antibiotic resistance for all of the nine constructs tested, only five isoforms were secreted as soluble proteins into the culture medium, four in active form. Furthermore, production levels of these five isoforms were found to be variable, depending on the transformant, which further underscores the necessity of screening multiple clones for expression of active enzyme. Failure to express certain XTH isoforms in P. pastoris could not be correlated with any conserved gene or protein sequence properties, and this precluded using rational sequence engineering to enhance heterologous expression of the cDNAs. Thus, while significant advances are reported here, systems for the heterologous production of plant proteins require further development.