Membrane-Related Science

Alvin C. K. Teo, Sarah C. Lee, Naomi L. Pollock, Zoe Stroud, Stephen Hall, Alpesh Thakker, Andrew R. Pitt, Timothy R. Dafforn, Corinne M. Spickett & David I. Roper

Biological characterisation of membrane proteins lags behind that of soluble proteins. This reflects issues with the traditional use of detergents for extraction, as the surrounding lipids are generally lost, with adverse structural and functional consequences. (read more…)

Sang Yup Lee, Hyun Uk Kim, Tong Un Chae, Jae Sung Cho, Je Woong Kim, Jae Ho Shin, Dong In Kim, Yoo-Sung Ko, Woo Dae Jang & Yu-Sin Jang

Production of industrial chemicals using renewable biomass feedstock is becoming increasingly important to address limited fossil resources, climate change and other environmental problems.  (read more…)

Benjamin J. Willson, Lindsey Dalzell, Liam N. M. Chapman, Gavin H. Thomas

The evolution of gene fusions that result in covalently linked protein domains is widespread in bacteria, where spatially coupling domain functionalities can have functional advantages in vivo.Fusions to integral membrane proteins are less widely studied but could provide routes to enhance membrane function in synthetic biology. (read more…)

Yanli Qi Hui Liu Xiulai Chen Liming Liu

The microbial membrane serves as a biological barrier that separates the interior of cells from the external environment, thus playing an important role in tolerance to stress conditions during industrial bioprocessing. (read more…)

Jae Woong Choi, Eun Jung Jeon, Ki Jun Jeong

Corynebacterium glutamicum has been mainly used for industrial production of amino acids, and in recent years, it has also been successfully engineered to broaden its range of substrate and product profiles. (read more…)

Huan Fang, Dong Li, Jie Kang, Pingtao Jiang, Jibin Sun & Dawei Zhang

The only known source of vitamin B12 (adenosylcobalamin) is from bacteria and archaea. Here, using genetic and metabolic engineering, we generate an Escherichia coli strain that produces vitamin B12 via an engineered de novo aerobic biosynthetic pathway. (read more…)

Thomas Eng, Philipp Demling, Robin A. Herbert, Yan Chen, Veronica Benites, Joel Martin, Anna Lipzen, Edward E. K. Baidoo, Lars M. Blank, Christopher J. Petzold, Aindrila Mukhopadhyay

Background

Microbial production of chemicals from renewable carbon sources enables a sustainable route to many bioproducts. Sugar streams, such as those derived from biomass pretreated with ionic liquids (IL), provide efficiently derived and cost-competitive starting materials. A limitation to this approach is that residual ILs in the pretreated sugar source can be inhibitory to microbial growth and impair expression of the desired biosynthetic pathway.

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Angad P. MehtaLubica SupekovaJian-Hua ChenKersi PestonjamaspPaul WebsterYeonjin KoScott C. HendersonGerry McDermottFrantisek Supek, and Peter G. Schultz

Endosymbiotic theory suggests that mitochondria evolved from free-living prokaryotes which entered the host cell and were retained as endosymbionts. Here, we model this earliest stage of the endosymbiotic theory of mitochondrial evolution by engineering endosymbiosis between two genetically tractable model organisms, Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. (read more…)

Itay Budin, Tristan de Rond, Yan Chen, Leanne Jade G. Chan, Christopher J. Petzold, Jay D. Keasling

Lipid composition determines the physical properties of biological membranes and can vary substantially between and within organisms. We describe a specific role for the viscosity of energy-transducing membranes in cellular respiration. (read more…)

Emmanuel Nji, Yurie Chatzikyriakidou, Michael Landreh & David Drew

Membrane bilayers are made up of a myriad of different lipids that regulate the functional activity, stability, and oligomerization of many membrane proteins. Despite their importance, screening the structural and functional impact of lipid–protein interactions to identify specific lipid requirements remains a major challenge. (read more…)

Royal Society Publishing has recently published a special issue of Interface Focus entitled “The artificial cell: biology-inspired compartmentalization of chemical function”, organised by Paul A Beales, Barbara Ciani and Stephen Mann.

This issue is based on a Royal Society Theo Murphy meeting held on the 26–27 February 2018. The articles reveal the rich diversity of research currently being undertaken in the field of artificial cell design and construction, and highlight the challenges that lie ahead.

The articles are FREE TO ACCESS here.

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CBMNet-funded scientists from the Universities of York and Oxford, along with industrial partner Unilever, have unravelled a key part of the molecular process by which armpit bacteria produce the most pungent component of the noxious smell we recognise as BO. The findings could result in more effective deodorants with targeted active ingredients, the researchers suggest. (read more…)

Escherichia coli has been engineered toward an archaebacterium with an unprecedented high level of archaeal ether phospholipids. The obtained cells stably maintain a mixed heterochiral membrane. This finding challenges theories that assume that intrinsic instability of mixed membranes led to the “lipid divide” and the subsequent differentiation of bacteria and archaea. Furthermore, this study paves the way for future membrane engineering of industrial production organisms with improved robustness. (read more…)

Protein translocation is an essential feature of cellular organisms. Bacteria, like all single-cell organisms, interact with their environment by translocation of proteins across their cell membranes via dedicated secretion pathways. Proteins destined for secretion are directed toward the secretion pathways by the presence of specific signal peptides. This study demonstrates that under conditions of both osmotic stress and translation stress, E. coli cells undergo an excretion phenomenon whereby signal peptide-less proteins are translocated across both the inner and outer cell membranes into the extracellular environment. Confirming the presence of alternative translocation/excretion pathways and understanding their function and regulation are thus important for fundamental microbiology and biotechnology. (read more…)

Yunchang Xie, Junying Ma, Xiangjing Qin, Qinglian Li and Jianhua Ju

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Manuel Sommer, Hao Xie and Hartmut Michel

Background

Studies on membrane proteins are often hampered by insufficient yields of the protein of interest. Several prokaryotic hosts have been tested for their applicability as production platform but still Escherichia coli by far is the one most commonly used. Nevertheless, it has been demonstrated that, in some cases, hosts other than E. coli are more appropriate for certain target proteins. (read more…)

Ali R. Awan, Benjamin A. Blount, David J. Bell, William M. Shaw, Jack C.H. Ho, Robert M. McKiernan & Tom Ellis

Fungi are a valuable source of enzymatic diversity and therapeutic natural products including antibiotics. Here we engineer the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to produce and secrete the antibiotic penicillin, a beta-lactam nonribosomal peptide, by taking genes from a filamentous fungus and directing their efficient expression and subcellular localization. Using synthetic biology tools combined with long-read DNA sequencing, we optimize productivity by 50-fold to produce bioactive yields that allow spent S. cerevisiae growth media to have antibacterial action against Streptococcus bacteria. This work demonstrates that S. cerevisiae can be engineered to perform the complex biosynthesis of multicellular fungi, opening up the possibility of using yeast to accelerate rational engineering of nonribosomal peptide antibiotics.


Read the full article in Nature Communications

Baixue Lin and Yong Tao

Whole-cell biocatalysts provide unique advantages and have been widely used for the efficient biosynthesis of value-added fine and bulk chemicals, as well as pharmaceutically active ingredients. What is more, advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, together with the rapid development of molecular genetic tools, have brought about a renaissance of whole-cell biocatalysis. These rapid advancements mean that whole-cell biocatalysts can increasingly be rationally designed. Genes of heterologous enzymes or synthetic pathways are increasingly being introduced into microbial hosts, and depending on the complexity of the synthetic pathway or the target products, they can enable the production of value-added chemicals from cheap feedstock. Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology efforts aimed at optimizing the existing microbial cell factories concentrate on improving heterologous pathway flux, precursor supply, and cofactor balance, as well as other aspects of cellular metabolism, to enhance the efficiency of biocatalysts. In the present review, we take a critical look at recent developments in whole-cell biocatalysis, with an emphasis on strategies applied to designing and optimizing the organisms that are increasingly modified for efficient production of chemicals.


Read the full article in Microbial Cell Factories