Making bacteria do the hard work

Staff from the Universities of Birmingham and Aston are working together to engineer small pieces of DNA that can be introduced into bacteria to persuade them to overexpress valuable proteins such as hormones and antibodies. 

One of the tricks is to rig the system so that overexpression can be triggered with a simple inducer molecule. To cut the costs, Drs Jo Hothersall, Doug Browning, Tim Overton, Steve Busby and co-workers have developed a new expression system that uses nitrate, a cheap, stable and abundant inorganic ion, as a trigger. Since nitrate levels are high in many commercial fertilisers, triggering can even be achieved using garden fertiliser. 

The work is published in Biotechnology and Bioengineering: Hothersall J, Lai S, Zhang N, Godfrey RE, Ruanto P, Bischoff S, Robinson C, Overton TW, Busby SJW, Browning DF. Inexpensive protein overexpression driven by the NarL transcription activator protein. Biotechnol Bioeng. 2022 Feb 25. doi: 10.1002/bit.28071.

Epub ahead of print

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