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Recombinant protein expression in biofilms

Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal

Biofilm research is usually focused on the prevention or control of biofilm formation. Recently, the significance of the biofilm mode of growth in biotechnological applications received increased attention. Since biofilm reactors show many advantages over suspended cell reactors, especially in their higher biomass density and operational stability, bacterial biofilms have emerged as an interesting approach for the expression of specific proteins. Despite the potential of biofilm systems, recombinant protein production using biofilms has been scarcely investigated for the past 25 years. Our group has demonstrated that E. coli biofilms were able to produce a model recombinant protein, the enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP), at much higher levels than their planktonic counterparts. Even without optimization of cultivation conditions, an attractive productivity was obtained, indicating that biofilm cultures can be used as an alternative form of high cell density cultivation (HCDC). E. coli remains one of the favorite hosts for recombinant protein production and it has been successfully used in metabolic engineering for the synthesis of high value products. This review presents the advantages and concerns of using biofilms for the production of recombinant proteins and summarizes the different biofilm systems which have been described for this purpose. The relative advantages and disadvantages of the four microbial hosts tested for recombinant protein production in biofilms (two bacteria and two filamentous fungi) are also discussed.
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