Engineering the protein secretory pathway of Saccharomyces cerevisiae enables improved protein production

Mingtao Huang, Guokun Wang, Jiufu Qin, Dina Petranovic, Jens Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the most important and widely used cell factories for recombinant protein production. Many strategies have been applied to engineer this yeast for improving its protein production capacity, but productivity is still relatively low, and with increasing market demand, it is important to identify new gene targets, especially targets that have synergistic effects with previously identified targets. Despite improved protein production, previous studies rarely focused on processes associated with intracellular protein retention. Here we identified genetic modifications involved in the secretory and trafficking pathways, the histone deacetylase complex, and carbohydrate metabolic processes as targets for improving protein secretion in yeast. Especially modifications on the endosome-to-Golgi trafficking was found to effectively reduce protein retention besides increasing protein secretion. Through combinatorial genetic manipulations of several of the newly identified gene targets, we enhanced the protein production capacity of yeast by more than fivefold, and the best engineered strains could produce 2.5 g/L of a fungal α-amylase with less than 10% of the recombinant protein retained within the cells, using fed-batch cultivation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
Pages (from-to)E11025-E11032
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • intracellular protein retention
  • Cell engineering
  • Endosome-to-Golgi trafficking
  • Protein secretion
  • Yeast cell factories


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