Growth rate control of periplasmic product retention in Escherichia coli

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: The recombinant product is secreted to the periplasm in many processes where E. coli is used as host. One drawback with secretion is the undesired leakage of the periplasmic products to the medium.The aim of this work was to find strategies to influence the periplasmic retention of recombinant products. We have focused on the role of the specific growth rate, a parameter that is usually controlled in industrial bioprocesses. The hypothesis was that the stability of the outer membrane in E. coli is gained from a certain combination of specific phospholipids and fatty acids on one side and the amount and specificity of the outer membrane proteins on the other side, and that the specific growth rate influences this structure and therefore can be used to control the periplasmic retention.We found that is possible to control the periplasmic retention by the growth rate. The leakage of the product increased as the growth rate increased. It was however also found that a higher growth rate resulted in increased productivity. This resulted in equal amounts of product inside the cells regardless of growth rate.We also showed that the growth rate influenced the outer membrane composition with respect to OmpF and LamB while OmpA was largely unaffected. The total amount of outer membrane proteins decreased as the growth rate increased. There were further reductions in outer membrane protein accumulation when the recombinant product was secreted to the periplasm. The lowered amount of outer membrane proteins may have contributed to the reduced ability for the cell to retain the product in the periplasm.The traditional way to control the growth rate is through a feed of substrate in a fed-batch process. In this work we used strains with a set of mutations in the phosphotransferase system (PTS) with a reduced uptake rate of glucose to investigate if these strains could be used for growth rate control in batch cultivations without the use of fed-batch control equipment. The hypothesis was that the lowering of the growth rate on cell level would result in the establishment of fed-batch similar conditions.This study showed that it is possible to control the growth rate in batch cultivations by using mutant strains with a decreased level of substrate uptake rate. The mutants also produced equivalent amounts of acetic acid as the wild type did in fed-batch cultivation with the same growth rate. The oxygen consumption rates were also comparable. A higher cell density was reached with one of the mutants than with the wild type in batch cultivations. It is possible to control the growth rate by the use of the mutants in small-scale batch cultivations without fed-batch control equipment.