5 years ago

Thermostable proteins bioprocesses: The activity of restriction endonuclease-methyltransferase from <i>Thermus thermophilus</i> (RM.TthHB27I) cloned in <i>Escherichia coli</i> is critically affected by the codon composition of the synthetic gene

Piotr M. Skowron, Agnieszka Zylicz-Stachula, Daria Krefft, Aliaksei Papkov
Obtaining thermostable enzymes (thermozymes) is an important aspect of biotechnology. As thermophiles have adapted their genomes to high temperatures, their cloned genes’ expression in mesophiles is problematic. This is mainly due to their high GC content, which leads to the formation of unfavorable secondary mRNA structures and codon usage in Escherichia coli (E. coli). RM.TthHB27I is a member of a family of bifunctional thermozymes, containing a restriction endonuclease (REase) and a methyltransferase (MTase) in a single polypeptide. Thermus thermophilus HB27 (T. thermophilus) produces low amounts of RM.TthHB27I with a unique DNA cleavage specificity. We have previously cloned the wild type (wt) gene into E. coli, which increased the production of RM.TthHB27I over 100-fold. However, its enzymatic activities were extremely low for an ORF expressed under a T7 promoter. We have designed and cloned a fully synthetic tthHB27IRM gene, using a modified ‘codon randomization’ strategy. Codons with a high GC content and of low occurrence in E. coli were eliminated. We incorporated a stem-loop circuit, devised to negatively control the expression of this highly toxic gene by partially hiding the ribosome-binding site (RBS) and START codon in mRNA secondary structures. Despite having optimized 59% of codons, the amount of produced RM.TthHB27I protein was similar for both recombinant tthHB27IRM gene variants. Moreover, the recombinant wt RM.TthHB27I is very unstable, while the RM.TthHB27I resulting from the expression of the synthetic gene exhibited enzymatic activities and stability equal to the native thermozyme isolated from T. thermophilus. Thus, we have developed an efficient purification protocol using the synthetic tthHB27IRM gene variant only. This suggests the effect of co-translational folding kinetics, possibly affected by the frequency of translational errors. The availability of active RM.TthHB27I is of practical importance in molecular biotechnology, extending the palette of available REase specificities.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186633

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