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Biotechnology (N Y). 1991 May;9(5):455-60.

High-level expression of tetanus toxin fragment C in Pichia pastoris strains containing multiple tandem integrations of the gene.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Wellcome Biotech, Beckenham, Kent, UK.


We have used the methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris, to express high levels of tetanus toxin fragment C, a potential subunit vaccine against tetanus. In high biomass fermentations fragment C was induced to 27% of total cell protein or about 12 g/l of culture. The purified protein was as effective as native fragment C in immunizing mice. In order to optimize fragment C production, we have examined the parameters affecting foreign gene expression in Pichia. The level of expression was found to be largely independent of the site of chromosomal integration of the gene (AOX1 or HIS4), the type of integrant (insertion or transplacement), and the methanol utilisation phenotype of the host strain (Mut+ or Muts). The most important factor in obtaining high levels was the presence of multiple integrated copies of the fragment C expression cassette. Multicopy clones could be isolated from transformations using DNA fragments targeted for single-copy transplacement into the chromosome. These multicopy transformants were surprisingly stable over multiple generations during growth and induction in high cell density fermentations. Analysis of chromosomal DNA from these clones suggests that they arose by circularization of the transforming DNA fragment in vivo followed by multiple insertion into the chromosome via repeated single crossover recombination, in addition to the expected transplacement event. We have found this to be a general phenomenon and have used these multicopy "transplacement" clones to obtain high-level expression of several other foreign genes in Pichia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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