group leader: Dr. van den Heuvel

Recent Submissions

  • Discovery of LRE1 as a specific and allosteric inhibitor of soluble adenylyl cyclase.

    Ramos-Espiritu, Lavoisier; Kleinboelting, Silke; Navarrete, Felipe A; Alvau, Antonio; Visconti, Pablo E; Valsecchi, Federica; Starkov, Anatoly; Manfredi, Giovanni; Buck, Hannes; Adura, Carolina; Zippin, Jonathan H; van den Heuvel, Joop; Glickman, J Fraser; Steegborn, Clemens; Levin, Lonny R; Buck, Jochen; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    The prototypical second messenger cAMP regulates a wide variety of physiological processes. It can simultaneously mediate diverse functions by acting locally in independently regulated microdomains. In mammalian cells, two types of adenylyl cyclase generate cAMP: G-protein-regulated transmembrane adenylyl cyclases and bicarbonate-, calcium- and ATP-regulated soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC). Because each type of cyclase regulates distinct microdomains, methods to distinguish between them are needed to understand cAMP signaling. We developed a mass-spectrometry-based adenylyl cyclase assay, which we used to identify a new sAC-specific inhibitor, LRE1. LRE1 bound to the bicarbonate activator binding site and inhibited sAC via a unique allosteric mechanism. LRE1 prevented sAC-dependent processes in cellular and physiological systems, and it will facilitate exploration of the therapeutic potential of sAC inhibition.
  • Bithionol Potently Inhibits Human Soluble Adenylyl Cyclase through Binding to the Allosteric Activator Site.

    Kleinboelting, Silke; Ramos-Espiritu, Lavoisier; Buck, Hannes; Colis, Laureen; van den Heuvel, Joop; Glickman, J Fraser; Levin, Lonny R; Buck, Jochen; Steegborn, Clemens; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-04-29)
    The signaling molecule cAMP regulates functions ranging from bacterial transcription to mammalian memory. In mammals, cAMP is synthesized by nine transmembrane adenylyl cyclases (ACs) and one soluble AC (sAC). Despite similarities in their catalytic domains, these ACs differ in regulation. Transmembrane ACs respond to G proteins, whereas sAC is uniquely activated by bicarbonate. Via bicarbonate regulation, sAC acts as a physiological sensor for pH/bicarbonate/CO2, and it has been implicated as a therapeutic target, e.g. for diabetes, glaucoma, and a male contraceptive. Here we identify the bisphenols bithionol and hexachlorophene as potent, sAC-specific inhibitors. Inhibition appears mostly non-competitive with the substrate ATP, indicating that they act via an allosteric site. To analyze the interaction details, we solved a crystal structure of an sAC·bithionol complex. The structure reveals that the compounds are selective for sAC because they bind to the sAC-specific, allosteric binding site for the physiological activator bicarbonate. Structural comparison of the bithionol complex with apo-sAC and other sAC·ligand complexes along with mutagenesis experiments reveals an allosteric mechanism of inhibition; the compound induces rearrangements of substrate binding residues and of Arg(176), a trigger between the active site and allosteric site. Our results thus provide 1) novel insights into the communication between allosteric regulatory and active sites, 2) a novel mechanism for sAC inhibition, and 3) pharmacological compounds targeting this allosteric site and utilizing this mode of inhibition. These studies provide support for the future development of sAC-modulating drugs.
  • Dengue-specific subviral nanoparticles: design, creation and characterization

    Khetarpal, Niyati; Poddar, Ankur; Nemani, Satish K; Dhar, Nisha; Patil, Aravind; Negi, Priyanka; Perween, Ashiya; Viswanathan, Ramaswamy; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Tyagi, Poornima; Raut, Rajendra; Arora, Upasana; Jain, Swatantra K; Rinas, Ursula; Swaminathan, Sathyamangalam; Khanna, Navin (2013-05-25)
    Abstract Background Dengue is today the most significant of arboviral diseases. Novel tools are necessary to effectively address the problem of dengue. Virus-like particles (VLP) offer a versatile nanoscale platform for developing tools with potential biomedical applications. From the perspective of a potentially useful dengue-specific tool, the dengue virus envelope protein domain III (EDIII), endowed with serotype-specificity, host receptor recognition and the capacity to elicit virus-neutralizing antibodies, is an attractive candidate. Methods We have developed a strategy to co-express and co-purify Hepatitis B virus surface (S) antigen in two forms: independently and as a fusion with EDIII. We characterized these physically and functionally. Results The two forms of the S antigen associate into VLPs. The ability of these to display EDIII in a functionally accessible manner is dependent upon the relative levels of the two forms of the S antigen. Mosaic VLPs containing the fused and un-fused components in 1:4 ratio displayed maximal functional competence. Conclusions VLPs armed with EDIII may be potentially useful in diagnostic, therapeutic and prophylactic applications.
  • Simple high-cell density fed-batch technique for high-level recombinant protein production with Pichia pastoris: Application to intracellular production of Hepatitis B surface antigen

    Gurramkonda, Chandrasekhar; Adnan, Ahmad; Gäbel, Thomas; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Ross, Anton; Nemani, Satish K; Swaminathan, Sathyamangalam; Khanna, Navin; Rinas, Ursula (2009-02-10)
    Abstract Background Hepatitis B is a serious global public health concern. Though a safe and efficacious recombinant vaccine is available, its use in several resource-poor countries is limited by cost. We have investigated the production of Hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) using the yeast Pichia pastoris GS115 by inserting the HBsAg gene into the alcohol oxidase 1 locus. Results Large-scale production was optimized by developing a simple fed-batch process leading to enhanced product titers. Cells were first grown rapidly to high-cell density in a batch process using a simple defined medium with low salt and high glycerol concentrations. Induction of recombinant product synthesis was carried out using rather drastic conditions, namely through the addition of methanol to a final concentration of 6 g L-1. This methanol concentration was kept constant for the remainder of the cultivation through continuous methanol feeding based on the on-line signal of a flame ionization detector employed as methanol analyzer in the off-gas stream. Using this robust feeding protocol, maximum concentrations of ~7 grams HBsAg per liter culture broth were obtained. The amount of soluble HBsAg, competent for assembly into characteristic virus-like particles (VLPs), an attribute critical to its immunogenicity and efficacy as a hepatitis B vaccine, reached 2.3 grams per liter of culture broth. Conclusion In comparison to the highest yields reported so far, our simple cultivation process resulted in an ~7 fold enhancement in total HBsAg production with more than 30% of soluble protein competent for assembly into VLPs. This work opens up the possibility of significantly reducing the cost of vaccine production with implications for expanding hepatitis B vaccination in resource-poor countries.
  • Protein folding and conformational stress in microbial cells producing recombinant proteins: a host comparative overview

    Gasser, Brigitte; Saloheimo, Markku; Rinas, Ursula; Dragosits, Martin; Rodríguez-Carmona, Escarlata; Baumann, Kristin; Giuliani, Maria; Parrilli, Ermenegilda; Branduardi, Paola; Lang, Christine; Porro, Danilo; Ferrer, Pau; Luisa Tutino, Maria; Mattanovich, Diethard; Villaverde, Antonio (2008-04-04)
    Abstract Different species of microorganisms including yeasts, filamentous fungi and bacteria have been used in the past 25 years for the controlled production of foreign proteins of scientific, pharmacological or industrial interest. A major obstacle for protein production processes and a limit to overall success has been the abundance of misfolded polypeptides, which fail to reach their native conformation. The presence of misfolded or folding-reluctant protein species causes considerable stress in host cells. The characterization of such adverse conditions and the elicited cell responses have permitted to better understand the physiology and molecular biology of conformational stress. Therefore, microbial cell factories for recombinant protein production are depicted here as a source of knowledge that has considerably helped to picture the extremely rich landscape of in vivo protein folding, and the main cellular players of this complex process are described for the most important cell factories used for biotechnological purposes.
  • Packaging protein drugs as bacterial inclusion bodies for therapeutic applications

    Villaverde, Antonio; García-Fruitós, Elena; Rinas, Ursula; Seras-Franzoso, Joaquin; Kosoy, Ana; Corchero, José L; Vazquez, Esther (2012-06-11)
    Abstract A growing number of insights on the biology of bacterial inclusion bodies (IBs) have revealed intriguing utilities of these protein particles. Since they combine mechanical stability and protein functionality, IBs have been already exploited in biocatalysis and explored for bottom-up topographical modification in tissue engineering. Being fully biocompatible and with tuneable bio-physical properties, IBs are currently emerging as agents for protein delivery into mammalian cells in protein-replacement cell therapies. So far, IBs formed by chaperones (heat shock protein 70, Hsp70), enzymes (catalase and dihydrofolate reductase), grow factors (leukemia inhibitory factor, LIF) and structural proteins (the cytoskeleton keratin 14) have been shown to rescue exposed cells from a spectrum of stresses and restore cell functions in absence of cytotoxicity. The natural penetrability of IBs into mammalian cells (reaching both cytoplasm and nucleus) empowers them as an unexpected platform for the controlled delivery of essentially any therapeutic polypeptide. Production of protein drugs by biopharma has been traditionally challenged by IB formation. However, a time might have arrived in which recombinant bacteria are to be engineered for the controlled packaging of therapeutic proteins as nanoparticulate materials (nanopills), for their extra- or intra-cellular release in medicine and cosmetics.
  • Smart sustainable bottle (SSB) system for E. coli based recombinant protein production

    Li, Zhaopeng; Carstensen, Bettina; Rinas, Ursula (2014-11-05)
    Abstract Background Recombinant proteins are usually required in laboratories interested in the protein but not in the production process itself. Thus, technical equipment which is easy to handle and straight forward protein production procedures are of great benefit to those laboratories. Companies selling single use cultivation bags and bioreactors are trying to satisfy at least part of these needs. However, single-use systems can contribute to major costs which might be acceptable when “good manufacturing practices” are required but not acceptable for most laboratories facing tight funding. Results The assembly and application of a simple self-made “smart sustainable bottle” (SSB) system for E. coli based protein production is presented. The core of the SSB system is a 2-L glass bottle which is operated at constant temperature, air flow, and stirrer speed without measurement and control of pH and dissolved oxygen. Oxygen transfer capacities are in the range as in conventional bioreactors operated at intermediate aeration rates and by far exceed those found in conventional shaking flasks and disposable bioreactors. The SSB system was applied for the production of various recombinant proteins using T7-based expression systems and a defined autoinduction medium. The production performance regarding amount and solubility of proteins with robust and delicate properties was as good as in state-of-the-art stirred tank commercial bioreactors. Conclusions The SSB system represents a low cost protein production device applicable for easy, effective, and reproducible recombinant protein production.
  • The intra- and extracellular proteome of Aspergillus niger growing on defined medium with xylose or maltose as carbon substrate

    Lu, Xin; Sun, Jibin; Nimtz, Manfred; Wissing, Josef; Zeng, An-Ping; Rinas, Ursula (2010-04-20)
    Abstract Background The filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger is well-known as a producer of primary metabolites and extracellular proteins. For example, glucoamylase is the most efficiently secreted protein of Aspergillus niger, thus the homologous glucoamylase (glaA) promoter as well as the glaA signal sequence are widely used for heterologous protein production. Xylose is known to strongly repress glaA expression while maltose is a potent inducer of glaA promoter controlled genes. For a more profound understanding of A. niger physiology, a comprehensive analysis of the intra- and extracellular proteome of Aspergillus niger AB1.13 growing on defined medium with xylose or maltose as carbon substrate was carried out using 2-D gel electrophoresis/Maldi-ToF and nano-HPLC MS/MS. Results The intracellular proteome of A. niger growing either on xylose or maltose in well-aerated controlled bioreactor cultures revealed striking similarities. In both cultures the most abundant intracellular protein was the TCA cycle enzyme malate-dehydrogenase. Moreover, the glycolytic enzymes fructose-bis-phosphate aldolase and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase and the flavohemoglobin FhbA were identified as major proteins in both cultures. On the other hand, enzymes involved in the removal of reactive oxygen species, such as superoxide dismutase and peroxiredoxin, were present at elevated levels in the culture growing on maltose but only in minor amounts in the xylose culture. The composition of the extracellular proteome differed considerably depending on the carbon substrate. In the secretome of the xylose-grown culture, a variety of plant cell wall degrading enzymes were identified, mostly under the control of the xylanolytic transcriptional activator XlnR, with xylanase B and ferulic acid esterase as the most abundant ones. The secretome of the maltose-grown culture did not contain xylanolytic enzymes, instead high levels of catalases were found and glucoamylase (multiple spots) was identified as the most abundant extracellular protein. Surprisingly, the intracellular proteome of A. niger growing on xylose in bioreactor cultures differed more from a culture growing in shake flasks using the same medium than from the bioreactor culture growing on maltose. For example, in shake flask cultures with xylose as carbon source the most abundant intracellular proteins were not the glycolytic and the TCA cycle enzymes and the flavohemoglobin, but CipC, a protein of yet unknown function, superoxide dismutase and an NADPH dependent aldehyde reductase. Moreover, vacuolar proteases accumulated to higher and ER-resident chaperones and foldases to lower levels in shake flask compared to the bioreactor cultures. Conclusions The utilization of xylose or maltose was strongly affecting the composition of the secretome but of minor influence on the composition of the intracellular proteome. On the other hand, differences in culture conditions (pH control versus no pH control, aeration versus no aeration and stirring versus shaking) have a profound effect on the intracellular proteome. For example, lower levels of ER-resident chaperones and foldases and higher levels of vacuolar proteases render shake flask conditions less favorable for protein production compared to controlled bioreactor cultures.
  • Application of simple fed-batch technique to high-level secretory production of insulin precursor using Pichia pastoris with subsequent purification and conversion to human insulin

    Gurramkonda, Chandrasekhar; Polez, Sulena; Skoko, Natasa; Adnan, Ahmad; Gäbel, Thomas; Chugh, Dipti; Swaminathan, Sathyamangalam; Khanna, Navin; Tisminetzky, Sergio; Rinas, Ursula (2010-05-12)
    Abstract Background The prevalence of diabetes is predicted to rise significantly in the coming decades. A recent analysis projects that by the year 2030 there will be ~366 million diabetics around the world, leading to an increased demand for inexpensive insulin to make this life-saving drug also affordable for resource poor countries. Results A synthetic insulin precursor (IP)-encoding gene, codon-optimized for expression in P. pastoris, was cloned in frame with the Saccharomyces cerevisiae α-factor secretory signal and integrated into the genome of P. pastoris strain X-33. The strain was grown to high-cell density in a batch procedure using a defined medium with low salt and high glycerol concentrations. Following batch growth, production of IP was carried out at methanol concentrations of 2 g L-1, which were kept constant throughout the remaining production phase. This robust feeding strategy led to the secretion of ~3 gram IP per liter of culture broth (corresponding to almost 4 gram IP per liter of cell-free culture supernatant). Using immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography (IMAC) as a novel approach for IP purification, 95% of the secreted product was recovered with a purity of 96% from the clarified culture supernatant. Finally, the purified IP was trypsin digested, transpeptidated, deprotected and further purified leading to ~1.5 g of 99% pure recombinant human insulin per liter of culture broth. Conclusions A simple two-phase cultivation process composed of a glycerol batch and a constant methanol fed-batch phase recently developed for the intracellular production of the Hepatitis B surface antigen was adapted to secretory IP production. Compared to the highest previously reported value, this approach resulted in an ~2 fold enhancement of IP production using Pichia based expression systems, thus significantly increasing the efficiency of insulin manufacture.
  • Specific in vivo knockdown of protein function by intrabodies.

    Marschall, Andrea L J; Dübel, Stefan; Böldicke, Thomas; Helmholtz Centre for infection researchz, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig. (2015)
    Intracellular antibodies (intrabodies) are recombinant antibody fragments that bind to target proteins expressed inside of the same living cell producing the antibodies. The molecules are commonly used to study the function of the target proteins (i.e., their antigens). The intrabody technology is an attractive alternative to the generation of gene-targeted knockout animals, and complements knockdown techniques such as RNAi, miRNA and small molecule inhibitors, by-passing various limitations and disadvantages of these methods. The advantages of intrabodies include very high specificity for the target, the possibility to knock down several protein isoforms by one intrabody and targeting of specific splice variants or even post-translational modifications. Different types of intrabodies must be designed to target proteins at different locations, typically either in the cytoplasm, in the nucleus or in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Most straightforward is the use of intrabodies retained in the ER (ER intrabodies) to knock down the function of proteins passing the ER, which disturbs the function of members of the membrane or plasma proteomes. More effort is needed to functionally knock down cytoplasmic or nuclear proteins because in this case antibodies need to provide an inhibitory effect and must be able to fold in the reducing milieu of the cytoplasm. In this review, we present a broad overview of intrabody technology, as well as applications both of ER and cytoplasmic intrabodies, which have yielded valuable insights in the biology of many targets relevant for drug development, including α-synuclein, TAU, BCR-ABL, ErbB-2, EGFR, HIV gp120, CCR5, IL-2, IL-6, β-amyloid protein and p75NTR. Strategies for the generation of intrabodies and various designs of their applications are also reviewed.
  • High level transient production of recombinant antibodies and antibody fusion proteins in HEK293 cells.

    Jäger, Volker; Büssow, Konrad; Wagner, Andreas; Weber, Susanne; Hust, Michael; Frenzel, André; Schirrmann, Thomas; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2013)
    The demand of monospecific high affinity binding reagents, particularly monoclonal antibodies, has been steadily increasing over the last years. Enhanced throughput of antibody generation has been addressed by optimizing in vitro selection using phage display which moved the major bottleneck to the production and purification of recombinant antibodies in an end-user friendly format. Single chain (sc)Fv antibody fragments require additional tags for detection and are not as suitable as immunoglobulins (Ig)G in many immunoassays. In contrast, the bivalent scFv-Fc antibody format shares many properties with IgG and has a very high application compatibility.
  • Fast plasmid based protein expression analysis in insect cells using an automated SplitGFP screen.

    Bleckmann, Maren; Schmelz, Stefan; Schinkowski, Christian; Scrima, Andrea; van den Heuvel, Joop; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-02-23)
    Recombinant protein expression often presents a bottleneck for the production of proteins for use in many areas of animal-cell biotechnology. Difficult-to-express proteins require the generation of numerous expression constructs, where popular prokaryotic screening systems often fail to identify expression of multi domain or full-length protein constructs. Post-translational modified mammalian proteins require an alternative host system such as insect cells using the Baculovirus Expression Vector System (BEVS). Unfortunately this is time-, labor- and cost-intensive. It is clearly desirable to find an automated and miniaturized fast multi-sample screening method for protein expression in such systems. With this in mind, in this paper a high-throughput initial expression screening method is described using an automated Microcultivation system in conjunction with fast plasmid based transient transfection in insect cells for the efficient generation of protein constructs. The applicability of the system is demonstrated for the difficult to express Nucleotide-binding Oligomerization Domain-containing protein 2 (NOD2). To enable detection of proper protein expression the rather weak plasmid based expression has been improved by a sensitive inline detection system. Here we present the functionality and application of the sensitive SplitGFP (split green fluorescent protein) detection system in insect cells. The successful expression of constructs is monitored by direct measurement of the fluorescence in the BioLector Microcultivation system. Additionally, we show that the results obtained with our plasmid based SplitGFP protein expression screen correlate directly to the level of soluble protein produced in BEVS. In conclusion our automated SplitGFP screen outlines a sensitive, fast and reliable method reducing the time and costs required for identifying the optimal expression construct prior to large scale protein production in baculovirus infected insect cells. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • Genomic Analysis and Isolation of RNA Polymerase II Dependent Promoters from Spodoptera frugiperda.

    Bleckmann, Maren; Fritz, Markus H-Y; Bhuju, Sabin; Jarek, Michael; Schürig, Margitta; Geffers, Robert; Benes, Vladimir; Besir, Hüseyin; van den Heuvel, Joop; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
    The Baculoviral Expression Vector System (BEVS) is the most commonly used method for high expression of recombinant protein in insect cells. Nevertheless, expression of some target proteins--especially those entering the secretory pathway--provides a severe challenge for the baculovirus infected insect cells, due to the reorganisation of intracellular compounds upon viral infection. Therefore, alternative strategies for recombinant protein production in insect cells like transient plasmid-based expression or stable expression cell lines are becoming more popular. However, the major bottleneck of these systems is the lack of strong endogenous polymerase II dependent promoters, as the strong baculoviral p10 and polH promoters used in BEVS are only functional in presence of the viral transcription machinery during the late phase of infection. In this work we present a draft genome and a transcriptome analysis of Sf21 cells for the identification of the first known endogenous Spodoptera frugiperda promoters. Therefore, putative promoter sequences were identified and selected because of high mRNA level or in analogy to other strong promoters in other eukaryotic organism. The chosen endogenous Sf21 promoters were compared to early viral promoters for their efficiency to trigger eGFP expression using transient plasmid based transfection in a BioLector Microfermentation system. Furthermore, promoter activity was not only shown in Sf21 cells but also in Hi5 cells. The novel endogenous Sf21 promoters were ranked according to their activity and expand the small pool of available promoters for stable insect cell line development and transient plasmid expression in insect cells. The best promoter was used to improve plasmid based transient transfection in insect cells substantially.
  • Identification of Essential Genetic Baculoviral Elements for Recombinant Protein Expression by Transactivation in Sf21 Insect Cells.

    Bleckmann, Maren; Schürig, Margitta; Chen, Fang-Fang; Yen, Zen-Zen; Lindemann, Nils; Meyer, Steffen; Spehr, Johannes; van den Heuvel, Joop; Helmholtz Centre for infection research (HZI), Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    The Baculovirus Expression Vector System (BEVS) is widely used to produce high amounts of recombinant proteins. Nevertheless, generating recombinant baculovirus in high quality is rather time-consuming and labor-intensive. Alternatively, virus-free expression in insect cells did not achieve similar expression levels for most proteins so far. The transactivation method is a promising approach for protein expression in Sf21 cells. It combines advantages of BEVS and plasmid-based expression by activating strong virus-dependent promoters on a transfected plasmid by baculoviral coinfection. Here, we identified expression elements required for transactivation. Therefore, we designed several vectors comprising different viral promoters or promoter combinations and tested them for eGFP expression using the automated BioLector microcultivation system. Remarkably, only the combination of the very late promoter p10 together with the homologous region 5 (hr5) could boost expression during transactivation. Other elements, like p10 alone or the late viral promoter polH, did not respond to transactivation. A new combination of hr5 and p10 with the strongest immediate early OpMNPV viral promoter OpIE2 improved the yield of eGFP by ~25% in comparison to the previous applied hr5-IE1-p10 expression cassette. Furthermore, we observed a strong influence of the transcription termination sequence and vector backbone on the level of expression. Finally, the expression levels for transactivation, BEVS and solely plasmid-based expression were compared for the marker protein eGFP, underlining the potential of transactivation for fast recombinant protein expression in Sf21 cells. In conclusion, essential elements for transactivation could be identified. The optimal elements were applied to generate an improved vector applicable in virus-free plasmid-based expression, transactivation and BEVS.
  • Generation of anti-TLR2 intrabody mediating inhibition of macrophage surface TLR2 expression and TLR2-driven cell activation.

    Kirschning, Carsten J; Dreher, Stefan; Maass, Björn; Fichte, Sylvia; Schade, Jutta; Köster, Mario; Noack, Andreas; Lindenmaier, Werner; Wagner, Hermann; Böldicke, Thomas; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010)
    Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 is a component of the innate immune system and senses specific pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) of both microbial and viral origin. Cell activation via TLR2 and other pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) contributes to sepsis pathology and chronic inflammation both relying on overamplification of an immune response. Intracellular antibodies expressed and retained inside the endoplasmatic reticulum (ER-intrabodies) are applied to block translocation of secreted and cell surface molecules from the ER to the cell surface resulting in functional inhibition of the target protein. Here we describe generation and application of a functional anti-TLR2 ER intrabody (alphaT2ib) which was generated from an antagonistic monoclonal antibody (mAb) towards human and murine TLR2 (T2.5) to inhibit the function of TLR2. alphaT2ib is a scFv fragment comprising the variable domain of the heavy chain and the variable domain of the light chain of mAb T2.5 linked together by a synthetic (Gly4Ser)3 amino acid sequence.
  • Decrease of UPR- and ERAD-related proteins in Pichia pastoris during methanol-induced secretory insulin precursor production in controlled fed-batch cultures.

    Vanz, Ana Letícia; Nimtz, Manfred; Rinas, Ursula (2014)
    Pichia pastoris is a popular yeast preferably employed for secretory protein production. Secretion is not always efficient and endoplasmic retention of proteins with aberrant folding properties, or when produced at exaggerated rates, can occur. In these cases production usually leads to an unfolded protein response (UPR) and the induction of the endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD). P. pastoris is nowadays also an established host for secretory insulin precursor (IP) production, though little is known about the impact of IP production on the host cell physiology, in particular under industrially relevant production conditions. Here, we evaluate the cellular response to aox1 promoter-controlled, secretory IP production in controlled fed-batch processes using a proteome profiling approach.
  • Metabolic peculiarities of Aspergillus niger disclosed by comparative metabolic genomics.

    Sun, Jibin; Lu, Xin; Rinas, Ursula; Zeng, An Ping; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007)
    Aspergillus niger is an important industrial microorganism for the production of both metabolites, such as citric acid, and proteins, such as fungal enzymes or heterologous proteins. Despite its extensive industrial applications, the genetic inventory of this fungus is only partially understood. The recently released genome sequence opens a new horizon for both scientific studies and biotechnological applications.
  • Assessing stability and assembly of the hepatitis B surface antigen into virus-like particles during down-stream processing.

    Zahid, Maria; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Rinas, Ursula; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-07-17)
    The hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is a recombinant protein-based vaccine being able to form virus-like particles (VLPs). HBsAg is mainly produced using yeast-based expression systems, however, recent results strongly suggest that VLPs are not formed within the yeast cells during the cultivation but are formed in a gradual manner during the following down-stream procedures. VLPs are also not detectable during the first down-stream steps including mechanical and EDTA/detergent-assisted cell destruction. Moreover, VLPs are not detectable in the cell lysate treated with polyethylene glycol and colloidal silica. The first VLP resembling structures appear after elution of HBsAg from colloidal silica to which it binds through hydrophobic interaction. These first VLP resembling structures are non-symmetrical as well as heterodisperse and exhibit a high tendency toward cluster formation presumably because of surface exposed hydrophobic patches. More symmetrical and monodisperse VLPs appear after the following ion-exchange and size-exclusion chromatography most likely as the result of buffer changes during these purification steps (toward more neutral pH and less salt). Final treatment of the VLPs with the denaturant KSCN at moderate concentrations with following KSCN removal by dialysis does not cause unfolding and VLP disassembly but results in a re- and fine-structuring of the VLP surface topology.
  • Cryo-EM structure of Hepatitis C virus IRES bound to the human ribosome at 3.9-Å resolution.

    Quade, Nick; Boehringer, Daniel; Leibundgut, Marc; van den Heuvel, Joop; Ban, Nenad; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
    Hepatitis C virus (HCV), a widespread human pathogen, is dependent on a highly structured 5'-untranslated region of its mRNA, referred to as internal ribosome entry site (IRES), for the translation of all of its proteins. The HCV IRES initiates translation by directly binding to the small ribosomal subunit (40S), circumventing the need for many eukaryotic translation initiation factors required for mRNA scanning. Here we present the cryo-EM structure of the human 40S ribosomal subunit in complex with the HCV IRES at 3.9 Å resolution, determined by focused refinement of an 80S ribosome-HCV IRES complex. The structure reveals the molecular details of the interactions between the IRES and the 40S, showing that expansion segment 7 (ES7) of the 18S rRNA acts as a central anchor point for the HCV IRES. The structural data rationalizes previous biochemical and genetic evidence regarding the initiation mechanism of the HCV and other related IRESs.
  • Stable mammalian producer cell lines for structural biology.

    Büssow, Konrad; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Structure and Function of Proteins, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-03-21)
    The mammalian cell lines HEK293 and CHO have become important expression hosts in structural biology. Generating stable mammalian cell lines remains essential for studying the function and structure of recombinant proteins, despite the emergence of highly efficient transient transfection protocols. Production with stable cell lines can be scaled up easily and high volumetric product yield can be achieved. Protein structure reports of the past two years that used stable cell lines were surveyed for this review. Well-established techniques and novel approaches for generating stable cell lines and stable cell pools are presented, including cell sorting, site-specific recombination, transposons, the Lentivirus system and phage integrases. Host cell line optimization by endoglycosidase overexpression and sequence-specific genome engineering is highlighted.

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