Cold-adapted enzymes (and other cold-active proteins) are very challenging to produce in standard bacterial production hosts because they typically form inactive aggregates. This challenge represents perhaps the biggest bottleneck for further developments of new enzyme products from marine bioprospecting. Development of improved expression systems for enzymes with extreme properties could potentially have large impact on national and international biotech industry because such enzymes are highly desirable due to their intrinsic high efficiency at low temperatures. Cold-active enzymes can therefore contribute to e.g., more environmentally friendly industrial processes, and thus more environment-friendly consumer products.
The main objective of this project is to develop a robust system for production of cold-active enzymes. The system is based on a sub-Arctic bacterium that grows surprisingly fast to very high densities at low temperatures, it is sensitive to commonly used antibiotics, and its genes can easily be manipulated in a site-specific fashion.
So far, we have developed a prototype expression system and tested more than twenty commercially relevant cold-adapted enzymes. Fourteen of the cases resulted in soluble enzymes, which is far better than what can be expected when using conventional systems, such as E. coli. Further developments of the system towards a commercially viable product, either in the form of commercial kits with live cells and reagents or as service where the service provider does cloning and expression, is on-going at UiT The arctic university of Norway.