Intramembrane protease RasP boosts protein production in Bacillus

Jolanda Neef, Cristina Bongiorni, Vivianne J. Goosens, Brian Schmidt, Jan Maarten van Dijl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
280 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The microbial cell factory Bacillus subtilis is a popular industrial platform for high- level production of secreted technical enzymes. Nonetheless, the effective secretion of particular heterologous enzymes remains challenging. Over the past decades various studies have tackled this problem, and major improvements were achieved by optimizing signal peptides or removing proteases involved in product degradation. On the other hand, serious bottlenecks in the protein export process per se remained enigmatic, especially for protein secretion at commercially significant levels by cells grown to high density. The aim of our present study was to assess the relevance of the intramembrane protease RasP for high- level protein production in B. subtilis.

Results: Deletion of the rasP gene resulted in reduced precursor processing and extracellular levels of the overproduced a- amylases AmyE from B. subtilis and AmyL from Bacillus licheniformis. Further, secretion of the overproduced serine protease BPN' from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens was severely impaired in the absence of RasP. Importantly, overexpression of rasP resulted in threefold increased production of a serine protease from Bacillus clausii, and 2.5- to 10-fold increased production of an AmyAc alpha-amylase from Paenibacillus curdlanolyticus, depending on the culture conditions. Of note, growth defects due to overproduction of the two latter enzymes were suppressed by rasP- overexpression.

Conclusion: Here we show that an intramembrane protease, RasP, sets a limit to high- level production of two secreted heterologous enzymes that are difficult to produce in the B. subtilis cell factory. This finding was unexpected and suggests that proteolytic membrane sanitation is key to effective enzyme production in Bacillus.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number57
Publication statusPublished - 4-Apr-2017


  • Bacillus
  • RasP
  • Site-2 protease
  • Secretion
  • Amylase
  • Protease
  • GENE

Cite this