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Open Access Research

Increasing cell biomass in Saccharomyces cerevisiae increases recombinant protein yield: the use of a respiratory strain as a microbial cell factory

Cecilia Ferndahl1, Nicklas Bonander2, Christel Logez3, Renaud Wagner3, Lena Gustafsson1, Christer Larsson1, Kristina Hedfalk4, Richard AJ Darby2 and Roslyn M Bill2*

Author Affiliations

1 Chemical and Biological Engineering/Molecular Biotechnology, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Göteborg, Sweden

2 School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK

3 UMR 7175 - LC1, Dpt Récepteurs et Protéines Membranaires, ESBS, Blvd Sébastien Brant, BP 10413, 67412 Illkirch Cedex, France

4 Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry, Göteborg University, Box 462, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

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Microbial Cell Factories 2010, 9:47  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-9-47

Published: 17 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Recombinant protein production is universally employed as a solution to obtain the milligram to gram quantities of a given protein required for applications as diverse as structural genomics and biopharmaceutical manufacture. Yeast is a well-established recombinant host cell for these purposes. In this study we wanted to investigate whether our respiratory Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, TM6*, could be used to enhance the productivity of recombinant proteins over that obtained from corresponding wild type, respiro-fermentative strains when cultured under the same laboratory conditions.

Results

Here we demonstrate at least a doubling in productivity over wild-type strains for three recombinant membrane proteins and one recombinant soluble protein produced in TM6* cells. In all cases, this was attributed to the improved biomass properties of the strain. The yield profile across the growth curve was also more stable than in a wild-type strain, and was not further improved by lowering culture temperatures. This has the added benefit that improved yields can be attained rapidly at the yeast's optimal growth conditions. Importantly, improved productivity could not be reproduced in wild-type strains by culturing them under glucose fed-batch conditions: despite having achieved very similar biomass yields to those achieved by TM6* cultures, the total volumetric yields were not concomitantly increased. Furthermore, the productivity of TM6* was unaffected by growing cultures in the presence of ethanol. These findings support the unique properties of TM6* as a microbial cell factory.

Conclusions

The accumulation of biomass in yeast cell factories is not necessarily correlated with a proportional increase in the functional yield of the recombinant protein being produced. The respiratory S. cerevisiae strain reported here is therefore a useful addition to the matrix of production hosts currently available as its improved biomass properties do lead to increased volumetric yields without the need to resort to complex control or cultivation schemes. This is anticipated to be of particular value in the production of challenging targets such as membrane proteins.