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J Biotechnol. 2013 Apr 10;164(3):396-408. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.08.026. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Metabolic responses to recombinant bioprocesses in Escherichia coli.

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IBB - Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre of Biological, Engineering, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.


Escherichia coli has been widely used for the production of recombinant proteins. However, the unbalances between host metabolism and recombinant biosynthesis continue to hamper the efficiency of these recombinant bioprocesses. The additional drainage of biosynthetic precursors toward recombinant processes burdens severely the metabolism of cells that, ultimately, elicits a series of stress responses, reducing biomass growth and recombinant protein production. Several strategies to overcome these metabolic limitations have been implemented; however, in most cases, improvements in recombinant protein expression were achieved at the expense of biomass growth arrest, which significantly hampers the efficiency of recombinant bioprocesses. With the advent of high throughput techniques and modelling approaches that provide a system-level understanding of the cellular systems, it is now expected that new advances in recombinant bioprocesses are achieved. By providing means to deal with these systems, our understanding on the metabolic behaviour of recombinant cells will advance and can be further explored to the design of suitable hosts and more efficient and cost-effective bioprocesses. Here, we review the major metabolic responses associated with recombinant processes and the engineering strategies relevant to overcome these stresses. Moreover, the advantages of applying systems levels engineering strategies to enhance recombinant protein production in E. coli cells are discussed and future perspectives on the advances of mathematical modelling approaches to study these systems are exposed.

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