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J Biotechnol. 2007 Feb 20;128(3):531-44. Epub 2006 Nov 17.

Generation of a transgenic silkworm that secretes recombinant proteins in the sericin layer of cocoon: production of recombinant human serum albumin.

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Yoshizato Project, Cooperative Link of Unique Science and Technology for Economy Revitalization, Hiroshima Prefectural Institute of Industrial Science and Technology, 3-10-32 Kagamiyama, Higashihiroshima, Hiroshima 739-0046, Japan.


In this study we produced germline transgenic silkworms that spin cocoons containing recombinant human serum albumin (rHSA) in the sericin layer. A piggyBac-based transformation vector was constructed that carried HSA cDNA driven by sericin-1 gene promoter, viral enhancer hr3, and gene encoding viral trans-activator IE1. Isolated silk glands were bombarded with the vector and transplanted into host larvae. Three days later, the transplants were immunohistochemically analyzed, which showed that middle silk gland (MSG) cells expressed rHSA and secreted it into the MSG lumen. Then, silkworm eggs were injected with the vector and developed to larvae. The obtained transgenic silkworms spun silk threads whose sericin layers contained rHSA at 3.0microg/mg of cocoons. Most (83%) of the rHSA in cocoons was extracted with phosphate buffered saline, which was then subjected to ammonium sulfate precipitation and affinity chromatography. Finally, we obtained 2.8mg of 99%-pure rHSA from 2g of cocoons. Measurements of circular dichroism spectra of rHSA, and equilibrium dissociation constants of rHSA to warfarin and naproxen indicated that rHSA was conformationally and functionally identical to natural plasma HSA. Germline transgenic silkworms will be useful for producing various recombinant proteins in the sericin layer of cocoons.

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