Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

David A Johnson

Committee Members

Michelle M. Duffourc, J. Russell Hayman, Antonio E. Rusinol, Douglas P. Thewke


The yeasts Pichia pastoris and Kluyveromyces lactis were used to express several recombinant human proteins for further biochemical characterization. Two substitution variants of recombinant human enteropeptidase light chain (rhEPL) were engineered to modify the extended substrate specificity of this serine protease. Both were secreted as active enzymes in excess of 1.7 mg/L in P. pastoris fermentation broth. The substitution variant rhEPL R96Q showed significantly reduced specificities for the preferred substrate sequences DDDDK and DDDDR; however, the rhEPL Y174R variant displayed improved specificities for these substrate sequences relative to all other reported variants of this enzyme. The neutrophil serine proteases human cathepsin G (hCatG) and human neutrophil elastase (HNE) were expressed in P. pastoris and HNE was also expressed in K. lactis. The recombinant variants rhCatG and rHNE, with intact C-terminal extensions, were expressed as fusion proteins with the soluble heme-binding domain of cytochrome B5 (CytB5) and an N-terminal hexahistidine (6xHis) tag for purification. The CytB5 domain was linked to the native N-termini of active rhCatG and rHNE by the EPLcleavable substrate sequence DDDDK~I, where ~ is the sessile bond. These fusion proteins were directed for secretion. The yeast P. pastoris expressed up to 3.5 mg/L of EPL-activable rHNE in fermentation broth; however, only 200 μg/L of rhCatG could be produced by this method. Recombinant expression in K. lactis never surpassed 100 μg/L of activable rHNE. The CytB5 fusion domain was present in the heme-bound form, conferring a red color and 410 nm absorbance peak to solutions containing the fusion proteins. This absorbance pattern was most readily visible during the purification of CytB5-rHNE from P. pastoris. Human C-reactive protein (hCRP) and the substitution variant CRP E42Q were expressed in recombinant form and secreted by P. pastoris. Both products were found to bind phosphocholine (PCh) in the same manner as native hCRP. Difficulties encountered during purification revealed that wild type recombinant CRP (rCRP) was produced at 2 different molecular masses. The P. pastoris recombinant expression system yielded better results than K. lactis. Bioreactor-scale fermentation in a 5 L vessel facilitated expression and characterization of these recombinant proteins.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.