Main content area

Bacterial cell surface display of organophosphorus hydrolase for selective screening of improved hydrolysis of organophosphate nerve agents

Cho, C.M.H., Mulchandani, A., Chen, W.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2002 v.68 no.4 pp. 2026-2030
Escherichia coli, hydrolases, enzyme activity, hydrolysis, parathion-methyl, biodegradation, screening, genes, mutagenesis, mutants, DNA libraries
Organophosphorus hydrolase (OPH) is a bacterial enzyme that has been shown to degrade a wide range of neurotoxic organophosphate nerve agents. However, the effectiveness of degradation varies dramatically, ranging from highly efficient with paraoxon to relatively slow with methyl parathion. Sequential cycles of DNA shuffling and screening were used to fine-tune and enhance the activity of OPH towards poorly degraded substrates. Because of the inaccessibility of these pesticides across the cell membrane, OPH variants were displayed on the surface of Escherichia coli using the truncated ice nucleation protein in order to isolate novel enzymes with truly improved substrate specificities. A solid-phase top agar method based on the detection of the yellow product p-nitrophenol was developed for the rapid prescreening of potential variants with improved hydrolysis of methyl parathion. Two rounds of DNA shuffling and screening were carried out, and several improved variants were isolated. One variant in particular, 22A11, hydrolyzes methyl parathion 25-fold faster than does the wild type. Because of the success that we achieved with directed evolution of OPH for improved hydrolysis of methyl parathion, we believe that we can easily extend this method in creating other OPH variants with improved activity against poorly degraded pesticides such as diazinon and chlorpyrifos and nerve agents such as sarin and soman.