Image9_Engineering of the Recombinant Expression and PEGylation Efficiency of the Therapeutic Enzyme Human Thymidine Phosphorylase.TIF (590.94 kB)
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Image9_Engineering of the Recombinant Expression and PEGylation Efficiency of the Therapeutic Enzyme Human Thymidine Phosphorylase.TIF

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posted on 09.03.2022, 16:56 authored by Christos S. Karamitros, Catrina M. Somody, Giulia Agnello, Scott Rowlinson

Human thymidine phosphorylase (HsTP) is an enzyme with important implications in the field of rare metabolic diseases. Defective mutations of HsTP lead to mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE), a disease with a high unmet medical need that is associated with severe neurological and gastrointestinal complications. Current efforts focus on the development of an enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) using the Escherichia coli ortholog (EcTP). However, bacterial enzymes are counter-indicated for human therapeutic applications because they are recognized as foreign by the human immune system, thereby eliciting adverse immune responses and raising significant safety and efficacy risks. Thus, it is critical to utilize the HsTP enzyme as starting scaffold for pre-clinical drug development, thus de-risking the safety concerns associated with the use of bacterial enzymes. However, HsTP expresses very poorly in E. coli, whereas its PEGylation, a crucial chemical modification for achieving long serum persistence of therapeutic enzymes, is highly inefficient and negatively affects its catalytic activity. Here we focused on the engineering of the recombinant expression profile of HsTP in E. coli cells, as well as on the optimization of its PEGylation efficiency aiming at the development of an alternative therapeutic approach for MNGIE. We show that phylogenetic and structural analysis of proteins can provide important insights for the rational design of N’-terminus-truncation constructs which exhibit significantly improved recombinant expression levels. In addition, we developed and implemented a criteria-driven rational surface engineering strategy for the substitution of arginine-to-lysine and lysine-to-arginine residues to achieve more efficient, homogeneous and reproducible PEGylation without negatively affecting the enzymatic catalytic activity upon PEGylation. Collectively, our proposed strategies provide an effective way to optimize enzyme PEGylation and E. coli recombinant expression and are likely applicable for other proteins and enzymes.

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