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Biotechnol Prog. 2002 Sep-Oct;18(5):942-50.

Decreased protein expression and intermittent recoveries in BiP levels result from cellular stress during heterologous protein expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.


Cells are inherently robust to environmental perturbations and have evolved to recover readily from short-term exposure to heat, pH changes, and nutrient deprivation during times of stress. The stress of unfolded protein accumulation has been implicated previously in low protein yields during heterologous protein expression. Here we describe the dynamics of the response to this stress, termed the unfolded protein response (UPR), during the expression of the single chain antibody 4-4-20 (scFv) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Expression of scFv decreased the growth rate of yeast cells whether the scFv was expressed from single-copy plasmids or integrated into the chromosome. However, the growth rates recovered at longer expression times, and surprisingly, the recovery occurred more quickly in the high-copy integration strains. The presence of a functional UPR pathway was necessary for a recovery of normal growth rates. During the growth inhibition, the UPR pathway appeared to be activated, resulting in decreased intracellular scFv levels and intermittent recovery of the chaperone BiP within the endoplasmic reticulum. Intracellular scFv was observed primarily in the endoplasmic reticulum, consistent with activation of the UPR pathway. Although the intracellular scFv levels dropped over the course of the expression, this was not a result of scFv secretion. A functional UPR pathway was necessary for the drop in intracellular scFv, suggesting that the decrease was a direct response of UPR activation. Taken together, these results suggest that control of heterologous gene expression to avoid UPR activation will result in higher production levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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