Background: Bacillus subtilis is an important cell factory for the biotechnological industry due to its ability to secrete commercially relevant proteins in large amounts directly into the growth medium. However, hyper-secretion of proteins, such as alpha-amylases, leads to induction of the secretion stress-responsive CssR-CssS regulatory system, resulting in up-regulation of the HtrA and HtrB proteases. These proteases degrade misfolded proteins secreted via the Sec pathway, resulting in a loss of product. The aim of this study was to investigate the secretion stress response in B. subtilis 168 cells overproducing the industrially relevant alpha-amylase AmyM from Geobacillus stearothermophilus, which was expressed from the strong promoter P(amyQ)-M.
Results: Here we show that activity of the htrB promoter as induced by overproduction of AmyM was " noisy", which is indicative for heterogeneous activation of the secretion stress pathway. Plasmids were constructed to allow real-time analysis of P(amyQ)-M promoter activity and AmyM production by, respectively, transcriptional and out-of-frame translationally coupled fusions with gfpmut3. Our results show the emergence of distinct sub-populations of high- and low-level AmyM-producing cells, reflecting heterogeneity in the activity of P(amyQ)-M. This most likely explains the heterogeneous secretion stress response. Importantly, more homogenous cell populations with regard to P(amyQ)-M activity were observed for the B. subtilis mutant strain 168degUhy32, and the wild-type strain 168 under optimized growth conditions.
Conclusion: Expression heterogeneity of secretory proteins in B. subtilis can be suppressed by degU mutation and optimized growth conditions. Further, the out-of-frame translational fusion of a gene for a secreted target protein and gfp represents a versatile tool for real-time monitoring of protein production and opens novel avenues for Bacillus production strain improvement.
- Bacillus subtilis
- Secretion stress
- 2-COMPONENT REGULATORY SYSTEM
- SECRETION STRESS-RESPONSE
- GREEN FLUORESCENT PROTEIN
- STARCH DEGRADING ENZYMES
- RECOMBINANT PROTEINS
- CELL FATE