Production of synthetic spider dragline silk protein in Pichia pastoris
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The methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris was tested as a host for the production of long, repetitive protein polymers. Synthetic genes for a designed analog of a spider dragline silk protein were readily expressed at high levels under control of the methanol-inducible AOX1 promoter. Transformants containing multiple gene copies produced elevated levels of silk protein, but of a variety of altered sizes as a result of gene rearrangements at the time of transformation. Genes up to 3000 codons in length or longer could be expressed with no evidence of the prevalent truncated synthesis observed for similar genes in Escherichia coli, though genes longer than 1600 codons were expressed less efficiently than shorter genes. Silk-producing P. pastoris strains were stable without selection for at least 100 doublings.
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