Dutch collaboration could lead to enhanced protein production

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Enzyme

ProteoNic and Wageningen University have formalized their collaboration on the development and expression of enzymes in fungal host systems.

The collaboration enables Wageningen University and Research Centre, Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group to apply ProteoNic's UNic expression enhancement technology in projects in which industrial enzymes are expressed in fungal host systems.

“This agreement allows us to use and implement UNic expression technology in our current and future research projects in filamentous fungi like Aspergillus niger and other fungi of industrial importance,” ​said Leo de Graaff, assistant professor at Fungal Genomics of the laboratory of Microbiology of Wageningen University.

“In basic research it will help us to study the basic principles of protein production and secretion,”​ he added.

Victor Schut, CEO of ProteoNic, told FoodNavigator.com that industrial enzymes is a low margin, high volume business. The emphasis is on price. And application of the UNic technology can enable production of proteins for the food industry at a lower price by increasing protein production.

“Here, UNic facilitates the development of novel enzymes at competitive costs, while we gain access to industry fermentation conditions,”​ said Schut. “Together, Wageningen and ProteoNic can create significant value for the industrial enzyme market in the near term future."

Enzyme benefits

According to a recent review by scientists at the University of Georgia (US) and National Taiwan Normal University, stated that enzyme technology can be a more economical and environmentally friendly way of converting low value agricultural produce and transgenic plants into high-value industrial products like health foods and sweeteners.

The conversion process that makes basic commodities into value added products usually involves fermentation by microorganisms, and use of biocatalysts like amylase hydrolases.

Writing in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry​ (doi: 10.1021.jf801928e), the authors noted that recombinant enzyme technology, protein engineering, and enzyme immobilization are “powerful tools” that can enhance the activity of enzymes – as well as lower costs, increase thermostability, improve pH stability, and enhance productivity.

Translation, not transcription

Many companies are active in the use of biotechnology for enhanced industrial enzymes, but Schut said that ProteoNic are the only one to implement translational technology.

ProteoNic’s technology centres on enhancing the translation of messenger RNA – known to be a key component of the cycle of protein production.

The company incorporates an enhancing element close to the coding sequence of the desired protein, which leads to the preferential translation of the target mRNA.

According to the company’s website, this advantage can be expressed in two ways: Either “more protein is obtained with the energy supplied to the production system or, for the same protein yield less energy needs to be supplied to the production system.”

“Wageningen’s knowledge will support and expand the validation and track record of our UNic expression technology applied for the production of industrial enzymes,"​ said Schut.

Schut confirmed that ProteoNic are in discussion with a lot of companies, including big hitters in the enzyme world such as Danisco and Novozymes.

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