Team coaxed the bacterium into producing and secreting proteins on to its surface.
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.”