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Functional Replacement of Histidine in Proteins To Generate Noncanonical Amino Acid Dependent Organisms

Gan, Fei, Liu, Renhe, Wang, Feng, Schultz, Peter G.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018 v.140 no.11 pp. 3829-3832
Escherichia coli, biocontainment, histidine, ligands, live vaccines, mannose-6-phosphate isomerase, proteins
Simple strategies to produce organisms whose growth is strictly dependent on the presence of a noncanonical amino acid are useful for the generation of live vaccines and the biological containment of recombinant organisms. To this end, we report an approach based on genetically replacing key histidine (His) residues in essential proteins with functional His analogs. We demonstrate that 3-methyl-l-histidine (MeH) functionally substitutes for a key metal binding ligand, H264, in the zinc-containing metalloenzyme mannose-6-phosphate isomerase (ManA). An evolved variant, Opt5, harboring both N262S and H264MeH substitutions exhibited comparable activities to wild type ManA. An engineered Escherichia coli strain containing the ManA variant Opt5 was strictly dependent on MeH for growth with an extremely low reversion rate. This straightforward strategy should be applicable to other metallo- or nonmetalloproteins that contain essential His residues.