A synthetic system for expression of components of a bacterial microcompartment

Frank Sargent, Fordyce A. Davidson, Ciarán L. Kelly, Rachelle Binny, Natasha Christodoulides, David Gibson, Emelie Johansson, Katarzyna Kozyrska, Lucia Licandro Lado, Jane MacCallum, Rachel Montague, Brian Ortmann, Richard Owen, Sarah J. Coulthurst, Lionel Dupuy, Alan R. Prescott, Tracy Palmer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    In general, prokaryotes are considered to be single-celled organisms that lack internal membrane-bound organelles. However, many bacteria produce proteinaceous microcompartments that serve a similar purpose; that is to concentrate specific enzymatic reactions together or to shield the wider cytoplasm from toxic metabolic intermediates. In this work, a synthetic operon encoding the key structural components of a microcompartment was designed based on the genes for the Salmonella propanediol utilisation (Pdu) microcompartment. The genes chosen included pduA, -B, -J, -K, -N, -T, and -U, and each were shown to produce protein in an Escherichia coli chassis. In parallel, a set of compatible vectors designed to express non-native cargo proteins were also designed and tested. Engineered hexa-Histidine tags allowed isolation of the components of the microcompartments together with co-expressed, untagged, cargo proteins. Finally, an in vivo protease accessibility assay suggested that a PduD-GFP fusion could be protected from proteolysis when co-expressed with the synthetic microcompartment operon. This work gives encouragement that it may be possible to harness the genes encoding a non-native microcompartment for future biotechnological applications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2427-2436
    Number of pages10
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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