• Assessing stability and assembly of the hepatitis B surface antigen into virus-like particles during down-stream processing.

      Zahid, Maria; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Rinas, Ursula; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-07-17)
      The hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is a recombinant protein-based vaccine being able to form virus-like particles (VLPs). HBsAg is mainly produced using yeast-based expression systems, however, recent results strongly suggest that VLPs are not formed within the yeast cells during the cultivation but are formed in a gradual manner during the following down-stream procedures. VLPs are also not detectable during the first down-stream steps including mechanical and EDTA/detergent-assisted cell destruction. Moreover, VLPs are not detectable in the cell lysate treated with polyethylene glycol and colloidal silica. The first VLP resembling structures appear after elution of HBsAg from colloidal silica to which it binds through hydrophobic interaction. These first VLP resembling structures are non-symmetrical as well as heterodisperse and exhibit a high tendency toward cluster formation presumably because of surface exposed hydrophobic patches. More symmetrical and monodisperse VLPs appear after the following ion-exchange and size-exclusion chromatography most likely as the result of buffer changes during these purification steps (toward more neutral pH and less salt). Final treatment of the VLPs with the denaturant KSCN at moderate concentrations with following KSCN removal by dialysis does not cause unfolding and VLP disassembly but results in a re- and fine-structuring of the VLP surface topology.
    • Cryo-EM structure of Hepatitis C virus IRES bound to the human ribosome at 3.9-Å resolution.

      Quade, Nick; Boehringer, Daniel; Leibundgut, Marc; van den Heuvel, Joop; Ban, Nenad; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Hepatitis C virus (HCV), a widespread human pathogen, is dependent on a highly structured 5'-untranslated region of its mRNA, referred to as internal ribosome entry site (IRES), for the translation of all of its proteins. The HCV IRES initiates translation by directly binding to the small ribosomal subunit (40S), circumventing the need for many eukaryotic translation initiation factors required for mRNA scanning. Here we present the cryo-EM structure of the human 40S ribosomal subunit in complex with the HCV IRES at 3.9 Å resolution, determined by focused refinement of an 80S ribosome-HCV IRES complex. The structure reveals the molecular details of the interactions between the IRES and the 40S, showing that expansion segment 7 (ES7) of the 18S rRNA acts as a central anchor point for the HCV IRES. The structural data rationalizes previous biochemical and genetic evidence regarding the initiation mechanism of the HCV and other related IRESs.
    • Stable mammalian producer cell lines for structural biology.

      Büssow, Konrad; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Structure and Function of Proteins, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-03-21)
      The mammalian cell lines HEK293 and CHO have become important expression hosts in structural biology. Generating stable mammalian cell lines remains essential for studying the function and structure of recombinant proteins, despite the emergence of highly efficient transient transfection protocols. Production with stable cell lines can be scaled up easily and high volumetric product yield can be achieved. Protein structure reports of the past two years that used stable cell lines were surveyed for this review. Well-established techniques and novel approaches for generating stable cell lines and stable cell pools are presented, including cell sorting, site-specific recombination, transposons, the Lentivirus system and phage integrases. Host cell line optimization by endoglycosidase overexpression and sequence-specific genome engineering is highlighted.
    • The metabolic potential of Escherichia coli BL21 in defined and rich medium.

      Li, Zhaopeng; Nimtz, Manfred; Rinas, Ursula (2014)
      The proteome reflects the available cellular machinery to deal with nutrients and environmental challenges. The most common E. coli strain BL21 growing in different, commonly employed media was evaluated using a detailed quantitative proteome analysis.
    • Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of a mammalian type 10 adenylyl cyclase.

      Kleinboelting, Silke; van den Heuvel, Joop; Kambach, Christian; Weyand, Michael; Leipelt, Martina; Steegborn, Clemens (2014-04)
      The second messenger cAMP is synthesized in mammals by ten differently regulated adenylyl cyclases (AC1-10). These ACs are grouped into nucleotidyl cyclase class III based on homologies in their catalytic domains. The catalytic domain of AC10 is unique, however, in being activated through direct interaction with calcium and bicarbonate. Here, the production, crystallization and X-ray diffraction analysis of the catalytic domain of human AC10 are described as a basis for structural studies of regulator binding sites and mechanisms. The recombinant protein had high specific AC activity, and crystals of AC10 in space group P63 diffracted to ∼2.0 Å resolution on a synchrotron beamline. A complete diffraction data set revealed unit-cell parameters a = b = 99.65, c = 98.04 Å, indicating one AC10 catalytic domain per asymmetric unit, and confirmed that the obtained crystals are suitable for structure solution and mechanistic studies.
    • Purification of hepatitis B surface antigen virus-like particles from recombinant Pichia pastoris and in vivo analysis of their immunogenic properties.

      Gurramkonda, Chandrasekhar; Zahid, Maria; Nemani, Satish Kumar; Adnan, Ahmad; Gudi, Satheesh Kumar; Khanna, Navin; Ebensen, Thomas; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Guzmán, Carlos A; Rinas, Ursula; et al. (2013-12-01)
      Following earlier studies on high-level intracellular production of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) using recombinant Pichia pastoris, we present here in detail an enhanced method for the purification of recombinant HBsAg virus-like particles (VLPs). We have screened various detergents for their ability to promote the solubilization of recombinant intracellular HBsAg. In addition, we have analyzed the effect of cell disruption and extraction regarding their impact on the release of HBsAg. Our results show that introduction of the mild nonionic detergent Tween 20 in the initial process of cell lysis at ∼600bars by high pressure homogenization leads to the best results. The subsequent purification steps involved polyethylene glycol precipitation of host cell contaminants, hydrophobic adsorption of HBsAg to colloidal silica followed by ion-exchange chromatography and either isopycnic density ultracentrifugation or size exclusion chromatography for the recovery of the VLPs. After final KSCN treatment and dialysis, a total yield of ∼3% with a purity of >99% was reached. The pure protein was characterized by electron microscopy, showing the presence of uniform VLPs which are the pre-requisite for immunogenicity. The intramuscular co-administration of HBsAg VLPs, with either alum or a PEGylated-derivative of the toll-like receptor 2/6 agonist MALP-2, to mice resulted in the elicitation of significantly higher HBsAg-specific IgG titers as well as a stronger cellular immune response compared to mice vaccinated with a gold standard vaccine (Engerix™). These results show that P. pastoris derived HBsAg VLPs exhibit a high potential as a superior biosimilar vaccine against hepatitis B.
    • Multi-host expression system for recombinant production of challenging proteins.

      Meyer, Steffen; Lorenz, Carmen; Baser, Bahar; Wördehoff, Mona; Jäger, Volker; van den Heuvel, Joop; Department of Molecular Structural Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2013)
      Recombinant production of complex eukaryotic proteins for structural analyses typically requires a profound screening process to identify suitable constructs for the expression of ample amounts of properly folded protein. Furthermore, the evaluation of an optimal expression host has a major impact on protein yield and quality as well as on actual cost of the production process. Here we present a novel fast expression system for multiple hosts based on a single donor vector termed pFlp-Bac-to-Mam. The range of applications of pFlp-Bac-to-Mam comprises highly efficient transient transfection of HEK293-6E in serum-free suspension culture and subsequent large-scale production of challenging proteins expressing in mg per Liter level using either the baculoviral expression vector system or stable CHO production cell lines generated by Flp-mediated cassette exchange. The success of the multi-host expression vector to identify the optimal expression strategy for efficient production of high quality protein is demonstrated in a comparative expression study of three model proteins representing different protein classes: intracellular expression using a fluorescent protein, secretion of a single-chain-Fv-hIgG1Fc fusion construct and production of a large amount of highly homogeneous protein sample of the extracellular domain of a Toll-like receptor. The evaluation of the production efficiency shows that the pFlp-Bac-to-Mam system allows a fast and individual optimization of the expression strategy for each protein class.
    • Dengue-specific subviral nanoparticles: design, creation and characterization.

      Khetarpal, Niyati; Poddar, Ankur; Nemani, Satish K; Dhar, Nisha; Patil, Aravind; Negi, Priyanka; Perween, Ashiya; Viswanathan, Ramaswamy; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Tyagi, Poornima; et al. (2013)
      Dengue is today the most significant of arboviral diseases. Novel tools are necessary to effectively address the problem of dengue. Virus-like particles (VLP) offer a versatile nanoscale platform for developing tools with potential biomedical applications. From the perspective of a potentially useful dengue-specific tool, the dengue virus envelope protein domain III (EDIII), endowed with serotype-specificity, host receptor recognition and the capacity to elicit virus-neutralizing antibodies, is an attractive candidate.
    • Folding and dimerization kinetics of bone morphogenetic protein-2, a member of the transforming growth factor-β family.

      Vallejo, Luis F; Rinas, Ursula; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2013-01)
      The kinetics of folding and dimerization of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), a disulfide-connected, homodimeric cystine-knot protein and a member of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, was analyzed under a variety of different conditions. Refolding and dimerization of BMP-2 were extremely slow under all conditions studied, and could be described by consecutive first-order reactions involving at least one long-lived intermediate. The rate constants vary from ~ 0.2 × 10(-5) to ~ 3.5 × 10(-5) s(-1), and were strongly dependent on temperature, redox conditions, and the presence of stabilizing or destabilizing ions. In particular, the combined impact of ionic strength and redox conditions on the rates indicates that electrostatic interactions control thiol-disulfide exchange reactions on the path from the unfolded and reduced monomers to the disulfide-connected growth factor in a rate-determining way.
    • Inclusion bodies of fuculose-1-phosphate aldolase as stable and reusable biocatalysts.

      Sans, Cristina; García-Fruitós, Elena; Ferraz, Rosa M; González-Montalbán, Núria; Rinas, Ursula; López-Santín, Josep; Villaverde, Antonio; Álvaro, Gregorio; Dept. d'Enginyeria Química, Escola d'Enginyeria, Unitat de Biocatàlisi Aplicada Associada al IQAC (CSIC), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Edifici Q, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain. (2012-07-24)
      Fuculose-1-phosphate aldolase (FucA) has been produced in Escherichia coli as active inclusion bodies (IBs) in batch cultures. The activity of insoluble FucA has been modulated by a proper selection of producing strain, culture media, and process conditions. In some cases, when an optimized defined medium was used, FucA IBs were more active (in terms of specific activity) than the soluble protein version obtained in the same process with a conventional defined medium, supporting the concept that solubility and conformational quality are independent protein parameters. FucA IBs have been tested as biocatalysts, either directly or immobilized into Lentikat beads, in an aldolic reaction between DHAP and (S)-Cbz-alaninal, obtaining product yields ranging from 65 to 76%. The production of an active aldolase as IBs, the possibility of tailoring IBs properties by both genetic and process approaches, and the reusability of IBs by further entrapment in appropriate matrices fully support the principle of using self-assembled enzymatic clusters as tunable mechanically stable and functional biocatalysts.
    • Optimized procedure to generate heavy isotope and selenomethionine-labeled proteins for structure determination using Escherichia coli-based expression systems.

      Li, Zhaopeng; Nimtz, Manfred; Rinas, Ursula; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (SB), Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-11)
      Generating sufficient quantities of labeled proteins represents a bottleneck in protein structure determination. A simple protocol for producing heavy isotope as well as selenomethionine (Se-Met)-labeled proteins was developed using T7-based Escherichia coli expression systems. The protocol is applicable for generation of single-, double-, and triple-labeled proteins ((15)N, (13)C, and (2)H) in shaker flask cultures. Label incorporation into the target protein reached 99% and 97% for (15)N and (13)C, respectively, and 75% of (non-exchangeable) hydrogen for (2)H labeling. The expression yields and final cell densities (OD600 ~16) were the same as for the production of non-labeled protein. This protocol is also applicable for Se-Met labeling, leading to Se-Met incorporation into the target protein of 70% or 90% using prototrophic or methionine auxotrophic E. coli strains, respectively.
    • Functional antibodies targeting IsaA of Staphylococcus aureus augment host immune response and open new perspectives for antibacterial therapy.

      Lorenz, Udo; Lorenz, Birgit; Schmitter, Tim; Streker, Karin; Erck, Christian; Wehland, Jürgen; Nickel, Joachim; Zimmermann, Bastian; Ohlsen, Knut; Department of General, Visceral, Vascular and Paediatric Surgery, University Clinic of Würzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany. u.lorenz@mail.uni-wuerzburg.de (2011-01)
      Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of nosocomial infections. Multiple antibiotic resistance and severe clinical outcomes provide a strong rationale for development of immunoglobulin-based strategies. Traditionally, novel immunological approaches against bacterial pathogens involve antibodies directed against cell surface-exposed virulence-associated epitopes or toxins. In this study, we generated a monoclonal antibody targeting the housekeeping protein IsaA, a suggested soluble lytic transglycosylase of S. aureus, and tested its therapeutic efficacy in two experimental mouse infection models. A murine anti-IsaA antibody of the IgG1 subclass (UK-66P) showed the highest binding affinity in Biacore analysis. This antibody recognized all S. aureus strains tested, including hospital-acquired and community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus strains. Therapeutic efficacy in vivo in mice was analyzed using a central venous catheter-related infection model and a sepsis survival model. In both models, anti-IsaA IgG1 conferred protection against staphylococcal infection. Ex vivo, UK-66P activates professional phagocytes and induces highly microbicidal reactive oxygen metabolites in a dose-dependent manner, resulting in bacterial killing. The study provides proof of concept that monoclonal IgG1 antibodies with high affinity to the ubiquitously expressed, single-epitope-targeting IsaA are effective in the treatment of staphylococcal infection in different mouse models. Anti-IsaA antibodies might be a useful component in an antibody-based therapeutic for prophylaxis or adjunctive treatment of human cases of S. aureus infections.
    • Simple defined autoinduction medium for high-level recombinant protein production using T7-based Escherichia coli expression systems.

      Li, Zhaopeng; Kessler, Wolfgang; van den Heuvel, Joop; Rinas, Ursula; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (SB), Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-08)
      Protein production under the control of lac operon regulatory elements using autoinduction is based on diauxic growth of Escherichia coli on lactose after consumption of more preferred carbon substrates. A novel simple and cost-effective defined autoinduction medium using a mixture of glucose, glycerol, and lactose as carbon substrate and NH(4)(+) as sole nitrogen source without any supplementation of amino acids and vitamins was developed for T7-based E. coli expression systems. This medium was successfully employed in 96-well microtiter plates, test tubes, shake flasks, and 15-L bioreactor cultivations for production of different types of proteins achieving an average yield of 500 mg L(-1) product. Cell-specific protein concentrations and solubility were similar as during conventional isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside induction using Luria-Bertani broth. However, the final yield of target proteins was about four times higher, as a higher final biomass was achieved using this novel defined autoinduction broth.
    • Application of simple fed-batch technique to high-level secretory production of insulin precursor using Pichia pastoris with subsequent purification and conversion to human insulin.

      Gurramkonda, Chandrasekhar; Polez, Sulena; Skoko, Natasa; Adnan, Ahmad; Gäbel, Thomas; Chugh, Dipti; Swaminathan, Sathyamangalam; Khanna, Navin; Tisminetzky, Sergio; Rinas, Ursula; et al. (2010)
      The prevalence of diabetes is predicted to rise significantly in the coming decades. A recent analysis projects that by the year 2030 there will be ~366 million diabetics around the world, leading to an increased demand for inexpensive insulin to make this life-saving drug also affordable for resource poor countries.
    • Side effects of chaperone gene co-expression in recombinant protein production.

      Martínez-Alonso, Mónica; García-Fruitós, Elena; Ferrer-Miralles, Neus; Rinas, Ursula; Villaverde, Antonio; Institute for Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 08193 Barcelona, Spain. (2010)
      Insufficient availability of molecular chaperones is observed as a major bottleneck for proper protein folding in recombinant protein production. Therefore, co-production of selected sets of cell chaperones along with foreign polypeptides is a common approach to increase the yield of properly folded, recombinant proteins in bacterial cell factories. However, unbalanced amounts of folding modulators handling folding-reluctant protein species might instead trigger undesired proteolytic activities, detrimental regarding recombinant protein stability, quality and yield. This minireview summarizes the most recent observations of chaperone-linked negative side effects, mostly focusing on DnaK and GroEL sets, when using these proteins as folding assistant agents. These events are discussed in the context of the complexity of the cell quality network and the consequent intricacy of the physiological responses triggered by protein misfolding.
    • Preparation of bioactive soluble human leukemia inhibitory factor from recombinant Escherichia coli using thioredoxin as fusion partner.

      Tomala, Magda; Lavrentieva, Antonina; Moretti, Pierre; Rinas, Ursula; Kasper, Cornelia; Stahl, Frank; Schambach, Axel; Warlich, Eva; Martin, Ulrich; Cantz, Tobias; et al. (2010-09)
      Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a polyfunctional cytokine with numerous regulatory effects in vivo and in vitro. In stem cell cultures it is the essential media supplement for the maintenance of pluripotency of embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. With regard to large scale cultures of these cells, LIF is needed in high quality and quantity and represents the major cost determining factor (90%) of the culture media. In this report, we describe a novel production and purification process for human LIF (hLIF) from recombinant Escherichia coli cultures. hLIF was cloned into pET32b and expressed as soluble protein in fusion with thioredoxin. After purification based on membrane adsorber technology, the fusion protein was cleaved using TEV protease. Released, soluble hLIF was subsequently purified by cation exchange chromatography and successfully tested for its biological activity using suspension cultures of murine embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Our novel protocol for the production of recombinant hLIF is very suitable and effective for the production of poorly soluble proteins through expression in fusion with the solubilizing partner thioredoxin.
    • Expression and purification of bioactive soluble murine stem cell factor from recombinant Escherichia coli using thioredoxin as fusion partner.

      Bals, Carola; Schambach, Axel; Meyer, Johann; Scheper, Thomas; Rinas, Ursula; Excellence Cluster Rebirth, Institute of Technical Chemistry-Life Science, Leibniz University of Hannover, Callinstr.5, 30167 Hannover, Germany. (2011-03-10)
      Stem cell factor (SCF) known as the c-kit ligand, plays important roles in spermatogenesis, melanogenesis and early stages of hematopoiesis. As for the latter, SCF is essential for growth and expansion of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. We herein describe the production of recombinant murine SCF from Escherichia coli as soluble thioredoxin-fusion protein. The formation of insoluble and inactive inclusion bodies, usually observed when SCF is expressed in E. coli, was almost entirely prevented. After purification based on membrane adsorber technology, the fusion protein was subsequently cleaved by TEV protease in order to release mature mSCF. Following dialysis and a final purification step, the target protein was isolated in high purity. Bioactivity of mSCF was proven by different tests (MTT analogous assay, long-term proliferation assay) applying a human megakaryocytic cell line. Furthermore, the biological activity of the uncleaved fusion protein was tested as well. We observed a significant activity, even though it was less than the activity displayed by the purified mSCF. In summary, avoiding inclusion body formation we present an efficient production procedure for mSCF, one of the most important stem cell cytokines.