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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2017 May;101(10):4085-4092. doi: 10.1007/s00253-017-8164-1. Epub 2017 Feb 11.

Comparison of transplastomic Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Nicotiana tabacum expression system for the production of a bacterial endoglucanase.

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Department of Biology and Biotechnology, University of Pavia, Via Ferrata 9, 27100, Pavia, Italy.
Laboratory of Plant Physiology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emilie-Argand 11, CH-2000, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Department of Botany and Plant Biology, University of Geneva, 30 Quai Ernest Ansermet, Sciences III, CH-1211, Genève, Switzerland.
Plant Transformation Group, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi, 110067, India.
Department of Botany and Plant Biology, University of Geneva, 30 Quai Ernest Ansermet, Sciences III, CH-1211, Genève, Switzerland.


The bulk production of recombinant enzymes by either prokaryotic or eukaryotic organisms might contribute to replace environmentally non-friendly chemistry-based industrial processes with enzyme-based biocatalysis, provided the cost of enzyme production is low. In this context, it is worth noting that the production of recombinant proteins by photosynthetic organisms offer both eukaryotic (nuclear) and prokaryotic (chloroplast) alternatives, along with the advantage of an autotrophic nutrition. Compared to nuclear transformation, chloroplast transformation generally allows a higher level of accumulation of the recombinant protein of interest. Furthermore, among the photosynthetic organisms, there is a choice of using either multicellular or unicellular ones. Tobacco, being a non-food and non-feed plant, has been considered as a good choice for producing enzymes with applications in technical industry, using a transplastomic approach. Also, unicellular green algae, in particular Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, have been proposed as candidate organisms for the production of recombinant proteins. In the light of the different features of these two transplastomic systems, we decided to make a direct comparison of the efficiency of production of a bacterial endoglucanase. With respect to the amount obtained, 14 mg g-1 of biomass fresh weight equivalent to 8-10% of the total protein content and estimated production cost, 1.5-2€ kg-1, tobacco proved to be far more favorable for bulk enzyme production when compared to C. reinhardtii which accumulated this endoglucanase at 0.003% of the total protein.


Cellulase; Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; Chloroplast; Molecular farming; Tobacco

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