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Creators/Authors contains: "Jewett, Michael C."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2024
  3. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is the primary etiologic agent of traveler’s diarrhea and a major cause of diarrheal disease and death worldwide, especially in infants and young children. Despite significant efforts over the past several decades, an affordable vaccine that appreciably decreases mortality and morbidity associated with ETEC infection among children under the age of 5 years remains an unmet aspirational goal. Here, we describe robust, cost-effective biosynthetic routes that leverage glycoengineered strains of non-pathogenic E. coli or their cell-free extracts for producing conjugate vaccine candidates against two of the most prevalent O serogroups of ETEC, O148 and O78. Specifically, we demonstrate site-specific installation of O-antigen polysaccharides (O-PS) corresponding to these serogroups onto licensed carrier proteins using the oligosaccharyltransferase PglB from Campylobacter jejuni. The resulting conjugates stimulate strong O-PS-specific humoral responses in mice and elicit IgG antibodies that possess bactericidal activity against the cognate pathogens. We also show that one of the prototype conjugates decorated with serogroup O148 O-PS reduces ETEC colonization in mice, providing evidence of vaccine-induced mucosal protection. We anticipate that our bacterial cell-based and cell-free platforms will enable creation of multivalent formulations with the potential for broad ETEC serogroup protection and increased access through low-cost biomanufacturing. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 2, 2024
  4. Abstract Understanding how modifications to the ribosome affect function has implications for studying ribosome biogenesis, building minimal cells, and repurposing ribosomes for synthetic biology. However, efforts to design sequence-modified ribosomes have been limited because point mutations in the ribosomal RNA (rRNA), especially in the catalytic active site (peptidyl transferase center; PTC), are often functionally detrimental. Moreover, methods for directed evolution of rRNA are constrained by practical considerations (e.g. library size). Here, to address these limitations, we developed a computational rRNA design approach for screening guided libraries of mutant ribosomes. Our method includes in silico library design and selection using a Rosetta stepwise Monte Carlo method (SWM), library construction and in vitro testing of combined ribosomal assembly and translation activity, and functional characterization in vivo. As a model, we apply our method to making modified ribosomes with mutant PTCs. We engineer ribosomes with as many as 30 mutations in their PTCs, highlighting previously unidentified epistatic interactions, and show that SWM helps identify sequences with beneficial phenotypes as compared to random library sequences. We further demonstrate that some variants improve cell growth in vivo, relative to wild type ribosomes. We anticipate that SWM design and selection may serve as a powerful tool for rRNA engineering. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 9, 2023
  5. Abstract

    The ability to reconstitute natural glycosylation pathways or prototype entirely new ones from scratch is hampered by the limited availability of functional glycoenzymes, many of which are membrane proteins that fail to express in heterologous hosts. Here, we describe a strategy for topologically converting membrane-bound glycosyltransferases (GTs) into water soluble biocatalysts, which are expressed at high levels in the cytoplasm of living cells with retention of biological activity. We demonstrate the universality of the approach through facile production of 98 difficult-to-express GTs, predominantly of human origin, across several commonly used expression platforms. Using a subset of these water-soluble enzymes, we perform structural remodeling of both free and protein-linked glycans including those found on the monoclonal antibody therapeutic trastuzumab. Overall, our strategy for rationally redesigning GTs provides an effective and versatile biosynthetic route to large quantities of diverse, enzymatically active GTs, which should find use in structure-function studies as well as in biochemical and biomedical applications involving complex glycomolecules.

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  6. Abstract Microbial production of fuels, chemicals, and materials has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a sustainable bioeconomy. While synthetic biology allows readjusting of native metabolic pathways for the synthesis of desired products, often these native pathways do not support maximum efficiency and are affected by complex regulatory mechanisms. A synthetic or engineered pathway that allows modular synthesis of versatile bioproducts with minimal enzyme requirement and regulation while achieving high carbon and energy efficiency could be an alternative solution to address these issues. The reverse β-oxidation (rBOX) pathways enable iterative non-decarboxylative elongation of carbon molecules of varying chain lengths and functional groups with only four core enzymes and no ATP requirement. Here, we describe recent developments in rBOX pathway engineering to produce alcohols and carboxylic acids with diverse functional groups, along with other commercially important molecules such as polyketides. We discuss the application of rBOX beyond the pathway itself by its interfacing with various carbon-utilization pathways and deployment in different organisms, which allows feedstock diversification from sugars to glycerol, carbon dioxide, methane, and other substrates. 
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  7. Abstract

    Engineering subcellular organization in microbes shows great promise in addressing bottlenecks in metabolic engineering efforts; however, rules guiding selection of an organization strategy or platform are lacking. Here, we study compartment morphology as a factor in mediating encapsulated pathway performance. Using the 1,2-propanediol utilization microcompartment (Pdu MCP) system fromSalmonella entericaserovar Typhimurium LT2, we find that we can shift the morphology of this protein nanoreactor from polyhedral to tubular by removing vertex protein PduN. Analysis of the metabolic function between these Pdu microtubes (MTs) shows that they provide a diffusional barrier capable of shielding the cytosol from a toxic pathway intermediate, similar to native MCPs. However, kinetic modeling suggests that the different surface area to volume ratios of MCP and MT structures alters encapsulated pathway performance. Finally, we report a microscopy-based assay that permits rapid assessment of Pdu MT formation to enable future engineering efforts on these structures.

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    Background Reverse transcriptase-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 are the cornerstone of the global testing infrastructure. However, these tests require cold-chain shipping to distribute, and the labor of skilled technicians to assemble reactions and interpret the results. Strategies to reduce shipping and labor costs at the point-of-care could aid in diagnostic testing scale-up and response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as in future outbreaks. Methods In this study we test both lab-developed and commercial SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic RT-qPCR mixes for the ability to be stabilized against elevated temperature by lyophilization. Fully assembled reactions were lyophilized and stored for up to a month at ambient or elevated temperature and were subsequently assayed for their ability to detect dilutions of synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Results Of the mixes tested, we show that one commercial mix can maintain activity and sensitivity after storage for at least 30 days at ambient temperature after lyophilization. We also demonstrate that lyoprotectants such as disaccharides can stabilize freeze-dried diagnostic reactions against elevated temperatures (up to 50°C) for at least 30 days. Conclusion We anticipate that the incorporation of these methods into SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing will improve testing pipelines by reducing labor at the testing facility and eliminating the need for cold-chain shipping. 
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    Abstract Cell-free gene expression (CFE) systems from crude cellular extracts have attracted much attention for biomanufacturing and synthetic biology. However, activating membrane-dependent functionality of cell-derived vesicles in bacterial CFE systems has been limited. Here, we address this limitation by characterizing native membrane vesicles in Escherichia coli- based CFE extracts and describing methods to enrich vesicles with heterologous, membrane-bound machinery. As a model, we focus on bacterial glycoengineering. We first use multiple, orthogonal techniques to characterize vesicles and show how extract processing methods can be used to increase concentrations of membrane vesicles in CFE systems. Then, we show that extracts enriched in vesicle number also display enhanced concentrations of heterologous membrane protein cargo. Finally, we apply our methods to enrich membrane-bound oligosaccharyltransferases and lipid-linked oligosaccharides for improving cell-free N- linked and O -linked glycoprotein synthesis. We anticipate that these methods will facilitate on-demand glycoprotein production and enable new CFE systems with membrane-associated activities. 
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