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Microb Cell Fact. 2013 Jan 14;12:3. doi: 10.1186/1475-2859-12-3.

Bacillus subtilis: from soil bacterium to super-secreting cell factory.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, P,O, box 30001, Groningen, 9700 RB, the Netherlands.


The biotechnology industry has become a key element in modern societies. Within this industry, the production of recombinant enzymes and biopharmaceutical proteins is of major importance. The global markets for such recombinant proteins are growing rapidly and, accordingly, there is a continuous need for new production platforms that can deliver protein products in greater yields, with higher quality and at lower costs. This calls for the development of next-generation super-secreting cell factories. One of the microbial cell factories that can meet these challenges is the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis, an inhabitant of the upper layers of the soil that has the capacity to secrete proteins in the gram per litre range. The engineering of B. subtilis into a next-generation super-secreting cell factory requires combined Systems and Synthetic Biology approaches. In this way, the bacterial protein secretion machinery can be optimized from the single molecule to the network level while, at the same time, taking into account the balanced use of cellular resources. Although highly ambitious, this is an achievable objective due to recent advances in functional genomics and Systems- and Synthetic Biological analyses of B. subtilis cells.

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