NERVE GROWTH FACTOR (NGF) SECRETION: BBa_K2616000
We built a part which should permit to secrete proNGF directly in the extracellular medium using E. coli type I secretion system. We used an inducible promoter T7 in order to control proNGF production thanks to IPTG induction. We added a His-tag in order to purify it.
Type I secretion systems transport proteins in one step across the two cellular membranes . The secretion system we chosed it is coded by the Hly operon, which is composed of an inner membrane protein HlyB, a periplasmic channel protein HlyD and an outer membrane protein TolC. As every secretion system, secretion is mediated by the specific recognition of a signal sequence, which in this case are the sixty C-terminal amino acids of alpha-haemolysin HlyA. This sequence binds with the HlyB-HlyD complex and is then translocated into the channel .
There are several problems to address when secreting recombinant proteins through the Type I secretion system:
- First, the signal sequence HlyA is not cleaved when crossing the channel, but it needs to be cleaved to obtain a functional protein in the medium. That is why we fused the proNGF sequence with this sixty-amino acid long sequence, separated by the cleavage site for Tobacco Etch Virus protease (TEV). As we co-express TEV protease, the signal sequence will be eliminated once it is out the cell, and our proNGF can be active.
- Secondly, whereas TolC endogenously exists within E. coli, this is not the case of the transporter complex HlyB-HlyD. Thus, we co-transformed our bacteria with another plasmid pVDL 9.3, generously provided by Dr. Victor de Lorenzo, from the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología of Madrid, bearing HlyB and HlyD sequences, in order to secrete NGF out of the cell .
RIP secretion : BBa_K2616001
To easily measure the effect of RNAIII Inhibiting Peptide (RIP) on Staphylococcus aureus, we designed an initial construct allowing us to simply produce RIP after IPTG induction. Thus, we designed a part containing a T7 promotor followed by a ribosome binding site (RBS) and a signal sequence for secretion fused to the RIP sequence upstream of the coding sequence.
Eight different secretion systems have currently been identified in Escherichia coli, and more generally in Gram-negative bacteria . Type I and type II secretion systems are the most commonly used for secretion of recombinant proteins. We chose to use Type II to secrete RIP . Type II secretion system is a two-steps system: proteins are first exported to the periplasmic space, between E. coli’s two membranes, and then secreted in the medium .
We target RIP to the periplasm using the Sec-dependent secretion system  . Our peptide is fused to an amino-terminal signal sequence that gets recognized by the chaperone SecB, then addressed to SecA and then translocated across the inner membrane through the SecYEG complex. One advantage of this system is that the signal sequence gets cleaved during translocation through SecYEG . Several different signal sequences have been characterized (all formed of 18 to 30 amino acids) . Following the advice of Dr. Jean-Michel Betton, Research Director in the Structural Biology Department at the Institut Pasteur, we decided to try two different signal sequences to export our peptides to the periplasm: MalE and DsbA   . Once in the periplasm, due to the small size of RIP (7 amino acids), a leaky release through the outer membrane of the bacteria should allow us to obtain RIP in the medium .
RIP secretion following S. aureus detection: BBa_K2616003
In order not to produce RIP continuously but only in presence of S. aureus, we engineered a sensor device in our modified E. coli capable of detecting S. aureus and producing RIP after detection.
Our modified E. coli expresses under a constitutive promoter BBa_J23107 the sensor device of S. aureus agr operon. This gene regulatory accessory is composed of agrA and agrC, and we took it from BBa_I746100 from iGEM Cambridge 2007 team. Staphylococcus communicate through a quorum sensing mechanism, which consists in producing and detecting signaling peptides called AIP (Auto-Inducing Peptide). If S. aureus approaches our system, AIP will be detected by the transmembrane protein agrC, launching the phosphorylation of agrA which then activates promotor P2 ( Bba_K1351037 , characterized by LMU-Munich 2014 team). Our RIP sequence fused to a signal sequence for periplasmic export is placed after promotor P2 and will consequently be expressed only if S. aureus approaches our biofilm.
KILL SWITCH : BBa_K2616002
Since we imagined a technology which requires to integrate engineered bacteria in humans, we need to ensure that the engineered bacteria are contained in the specific environment they are designed for. That is why we thought of using a “kill switch” that cause bacteria death if they are released in the environment. Our kill switch is based on temperature: it enables bacteria to survive at the human body temperature (37°C) but die at lower temperatures.
The kill-switch we use is based on a toxin/antitoxin combination, CcdB/CcdA . CcdB is a lethal toxin for E. coli and its production is placed under the regulation of a temperature-sensitive promoter . In permissive conditions, i.e. in the human body, the expression of the toxin is repressed and the antitoxin is expressed at a constitutively low level in order to counteract any leaky expression of the toxin. This is done thanks to the modification of the Plac promoter, which is explained precisely in the KILL-SWITCH part of this wiki. When the temperature drops, the repression is lifted and toxin expression increases. The constitutive low level of antitoxin is no longer sufficient to counter the effects of the toxin, and the bacteria die.
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