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J Mol Recognit. 2005 Mar-Apr;18(2):119-38.

Expression of heterologous proteins in Pichia pastoris: a useful experimental tool in protein engineering and production.

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ARC Special Research Centre for Green Chemistry, Monash University, Building 23, Wellington Road, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia.


The use of the methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris, as a cellular host for the expression of recombinant proteins has become increasing popular in recent times. P. pastoris is easier to genetically manipulate and culture than mammalian cells and can be grown to high cell densities. Equally important, P. pastoris is also a eukaryote, and thereby provides the potential for producing soluble, correctly folded recombinant proteins that have undergone all the post-translational modifications required for functionality. Additionally, linearized foreign DNA can be inserted in high efficiency via homologous recombination procedures to generate stable cell lines whilst expression vectors can be readily prepared that allow multiple copies of the target protein, multimeric proteins with different subunit structures, or alternatively the target protein and its cognate binding partners, to be expressed. A further benefit of the P. pastoris system is that strong promoters are available to drive the expression of a foreign gene(s) of interest, thus enabling production of large amounts of the target protein(s) with relative technical ease and at a lower cost than most other eukaryotic systems. The purpose of this review is to summarize important developments and features of this expression system and, in particular, to examine from an experimental perspective the genetic engineering, protein chemical and molecular design considerations that have to be taken into account for the successful expression of the target recombinant protein. Included in these considerations are the influences of P. pastoris strain selection; the choice of expression vectors and promoters; procedures for the transformation and integration of the vectors into the P. pastoris genome; the consequences of rare codon usage and truncated transcripts; and techniques employed to achieve multi-copy integration numbers. The impact of the alcohol oxidase (AOX) pathways in terms of the mut+ and mut(s) phenotypes, intracellular expression and folding pathways is examined. The roles of pre-pro signal sequences such as the alpha mating factor (alpha-MF) and the Glu-Ala repeats at the kex2p cleavage site on the processing of the protein translate(s) have also been considered. Protocols for the generation of protein variants and mutants for screening for orphan cognate binding partners and the use of experimental platforms addressing the molecular recognition behaviour of recombinant proteins such as the extracellular domains of transmembrane receptors with their physiological ligands are also described. Finally, the palindromic patterns of glycosylation that can occur with these expression systems, in terms of the role and location of the sequon in the primary structure, the number of mannose units and the types of oligosaccharides incorporated as Asn- or O-linkages and their impact on the thermostability and immunogenicity of the recombinant protein are considered. Procedures to prevent glycosylation through manipulation of cell culture conditions or via enzymatic and site-directed mutagenesis methods are also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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