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Stepwise engineering of a Pichia pastoris D-amino acid oxidase whole cell catalyst

Sandra Abad1, Jozef Nahalka123, Gabriele Bergler1, S Alison Arnold4, Robert Speight4, Ian Fotheringham4, Bernd Nidetzky12 and Anton Glieder1*

Author Affiliations

1 Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology, c/o Applied Biocatalysis Research Centre, c/o Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Graz University of Technology, Petersgasse 14, 8010 Graz, Austria

2 Institute of Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, Graz University of Technology, Petersgasse 12, 8010 Graz, Austria

3 Institute of Chemistry, Center of Glycomics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravska cesta 9, SK-84538 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

4 Ingenza Ltd., Wallace Building, Roslin BioCentre, Roslin, EH25 9PP, UK

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Microbial Cell Factories 2010, 9:24  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-9-24

Published: 26 April 2010



Trigonopsis variabilis D-amino acid oxidase (TvDAO) is a well characterized enzyme used for cephalosporin C conversion on industrial scale. However, the demands on the enzyme with respect to activity, operational stability and costs also vary with the field of application. Processes that use the soluble enzyme suffer from fast inactivation of TvDAO while immobilized oxidase preparations raise issues related to expensive carriers and catalyst efficiency. Therefore, oxidase preparations that are more robust and active than those currently available would enable a much broader range of economically viable applications of this enzyme in fine chemical syntheses. A multi-step engineering approach was chosen here to develop a robust and highly active Pichia pastoris TvDAO whole-cell biocatalyst.


As compared to the native T. variabilis host, a more than seven-fold enhancement of the intracellular level of oxidase activity was achieved in P. pastoris through expression optimization by codon redesign as well as efficient subcellular targeting of the enzyme to peroxisomes. Multi copy integration further doubled expression and the specific activity of the whole cell catalyst. From a multicopy production strain, about 1.3 × 103 U/g wet cell weight (wcw) were derived by standard induction conditions feeding pure methanol. A fed-batch cultivation protocol using a mixture of methanol and glycerol in the induction phase attenuated the apparent toxicity of the recombinant oxidase to yield final biomass concentrations in the bioreactor of ≥ 200 g/L compared to only 117 g/L using the standard methanol feed. Permeabilization of P. pastoris using 10% isopropanol yielded a whole-cell enzyme preparation that showed 49% of the total available intracellular oxidase activity and was notably stabilized (by three times compared to a widely used TvDAO expressing Escherichia coli strain) under conditions of D-methionine conversion using vigorous aeration.


Stepwise optimization using a multi-level engineering approach has delivered a new P. pastoris whole cell TvDAO biocatalyst showing substantially enhanced specific activity and stability under operational conditions as compared to previously reported preparations of the enzyme. The production of the oxidase through fed-batch bioreactor culture and subsequent cell permeabilization is high-yielding and efficient. Therefore this P. pastoris catalyst has been evaluated for industrial purposes.