Use of expression-enhancing terminators in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to increase mRNA half-life and improve gene expression control for metabolic engineering applications

Kathleen A. Curran, Ashty S. Karim, Akash Gupta, Hal S. Alper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Control of gene and protein expression of both endogenous and heterologous genes is a key component of metabolic engineering. While a large amount of work has been published characterizing promoters for this purpose, less effort has been exerted to elucidate the role of terminators in yeast. In this study, we characterize over 30 terminators for use in metabolic engineering applications in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and determine mRNA half-life changes to be the major cause of the varied protein and transcript expression level. We demonstrate that the difference in transcript level can be over 6.5-fold even for high strength promoters. The influence of terminator selection is magnified when coupled with a low-expression promoter, with a maximum difference in protein expression of 11-fold between an expression-enhancing terminator and the parent plasmid terminator and over 35-fold difference when compared with a no-terminator baseline. This is the first time that terminators have been investigated in the context of multiple promoters spanning orders of magnitude in activity. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of terminator selection for metabolic engineering by using a mutant xylose isomerase gene as a proof-of-concept. Through pairing an expression-enhancing terminator with a low-expression promoter, we were able to achieve the same phenotypic result as with a promoter considerably higher in strength. Moreover, we can further boost the phenotype of the high-strength promoter by pairing it with an expression-enhancing terminator. This work highlights how terminator elements can be used to control metabolic pathways in the same way that promoters are traditionally used in yeast. Together, this work demonstrates that terminators will be an important part of heterologous gene expression and metabolic engineering for yeast in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-97
Number of pages10
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Volume19
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Metabolic engineering
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Terminator
  • Yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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