Applied and environmental microbiology

Development of a continuous bioconversion system using a thermophilic whole-cell biocatalyst.

PMID 23335777


The heat treatment of recombinant mesophilic cells having heterologous thermophilic enzymes results in the denaturation of indigenous mesophilic enzymes and the elimination of undesired side reactions; therefore, highly selective whole-cell catalysts comparable to purified enzymes can be readily prepared. However, the thermolysis of host cells leads to the heat-induced leakage of thermophilic enzymes, which are produced as soluble proteins, limiting the exploitation of their excellent stability in repeated and continuous reactions. In this study, Escherichia coli cells having the thermophilic fumarase from Thermus thermophilus (TtFTA) were treated with glutaraldehyde to prevent the heat-induced leakage of the enzyme, and the resulting cells were used as a whole-cell catalyst in repeated and continuous reactions. Interestingly, although electron microscopic observations revealed that the cellular structure of glutaraldehyde-treated E. coli was not apparently changed by the heat treatment, the membrane permeability of the heated cells to relatively small molecules (up to at least 3 kDa) was significantly improved. By applying the glutaraldehyde-treated E. coli having TtFTA to a continuous reactor equipped with a cell-separation membrane filter, the enzymatic hydration of fumarate to malate could be operated for more than 600 min with a molar conversion yield of 60% or higher.