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September 7, 2009

Scientists Use C. Crescentus to Make Proteins

  • Investigators at the University of British Columbia have figured out how to use Caulobacter crescentus to produce proteins. The scientists have developed a commercially available kit based on this technology.

    C. crescentus is a harmless bacterium that has a single protein layer on its surface. The research team changed the system that secretes this protein, which self-assembles into a structure called the S-layer. This adaptation led to the secretion of other proteins that are useful for vaccines and various therapeutic purposes, the scientists report.

    Additionally, by keeping the S-layer protein intact and instead genetically inserting new things, C. crescentus produced a dense display of useful proteins.

    “This S-layer system is very efficient at producing and secreting proteins—we can make the bacterium into a protein pump, secreting over half of all the protein it makes as an engineered S-layer protein,” says John Smit, Ph.D., who presented these findings at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting today.

    “Applications of S-layer display that we are currently developing include anticancer vaccines, an HIV infection blocker, and agents to treat Crohn's, colitis, and diarrhea in malnourished populations.”

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