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Development of cyclic AMP receptor protein-based artificial transcription factor for intensifying gene expression

Zhao, Peng, Wang, Wenjuan, Tian, Pingfang
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2018 v.102 no.4 pp. 1673-1685
Klebsiella pneumoniae, RNA, aldehyde dehydrogenase, bioreactors, cyclic AMP, gene overexpression, high performance liquid chromatography, lactose, liquid state fermentation, operon, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, recombinant fusion proteins, transcription factors
Vector-dependent gene overexpression typically relies on an efficient operon and sufficient RNA polymerases (RNAPs). The lac (lactose) operon is a paradigm of transcription control, and cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) is a global regulator capable of recruiting RNAPs. However, the gap between lac operon and CRP has not been well bridged. In this work, CRP was fused to lac repressor protein (lacI) to form an artificial transcription factor (ATF) with the expectation that when LacI acted on the lacO-positioned upstream of gene of interest, the LacI-tethered CRP would trap RNAPs and thus improve the expression of PuuC, an aldehyde dehydrogenase catalyzing 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde (3-HPA) to 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) in Klebsiella pneumoniae. As expected, SDS-PAGE and HPLC showed enhanced PuuC expression and 3-HP production, respectively, compared to the control strain without expressing chimeric protein LacI-CRP. Moreover, quantitative real-time PCR demonstrated increased transcription levels of both PuuC and RNAP coding genes. In shake-flask cultivation, the recombinant K. pneumoniae strain coexpressing LacI-CRP and PuuC produced 1.67-fold of 3-HP relative to the stain only overexpressing PuuC. In bioreactor cultivation, the strain coexpressing LacI-CRP and PuuC produced 35.1 g/L 3-HP, whereas the strain without expressing LacI-CRP generated only 9.8 g/L 3-HP. Overall, these results indicated that as an ATF, LacI-CRP significantly boosted PuuC expression and 3-HP production. We envision that LacI-CRP as a plug-and-play part can be used for regulating gene expression.