Riboswitch mediated attention of T7 RNAP
The ability to induce gene expression in a small molecule dependent manner has led to many applications in target discovery, functional elucidation and bio-production. To date these applications have relied on a limited set of protein-based control mechanisms operating at the level of transcription initiation. The discovery, design and reengineering of riboswitches offer an alternative means by which to control gene expression (Dixon et al PNAS 2010, Dixon et al Angew. Chem. 2012). We have more recently developed a novel tunable recombinant expression system, termed RiboTite, which operates at both the transcriptional and translational level (Nucleic Acids Research 2016, e21; Molecular BioSystems 2016, 350). Using standard inducible promoters and orthogonal riboswitches, a multi-layered modular genetic control circuit was developed to control the expression of both bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase and recombinant gene(s) of interest.
The system was benchmarked against a number of commonly used E. coli expression systems, and shows tight basal control, precise analogue tunability of gene expression at the cellular level, dose-dependent regulation of protein production rates over extended growth periods and enhanced cell viability. This novel system expands the number of E. coli expression systems for use in recombinant protein production and represents a major performance enhancement over and above the most widely used expression systems.
Tuning expression to match secretion capacity
The secretion machinery of E. coli has a limited capacity and can become overloaded, leading to cytoplasmic retention of product; which can negatively impact cell viability and biomass accumulation. Fine control over recombinant gene expression offers the potential to avoid this overload by matching expression levels to the host secretion capacity. We recently report the application of the RiboTite gene expression control system to achieve this by finely controlling cellular expression levels. The level of control afforded by this system allows cell viability to be maintained, permitting production of high-quality, active product with enhanced volumetric titres.