Venus-tagged VP2 constructs



Venus-tagged VP2 constructs


Nannochloropsis oceanica (N. oceanica CCMP1779)


Homologous Recombination


EF/ NR promoters


Nannochloropsis oceanica is a unicellular oleaginous microalga of emerging biotechnological interest with a sequenced, annotated genome, available transcriptomic and proteomic data, and well-established basic molecular tools for genetic engineering. To establish N. oceanica as a eukaryotic host for recombinant protein synthesis and develop molecular technology for vaccine production, we chose the viral surface protein 2 (VP2) of a pathogenic fish virus that causes infectious pancreatic necrosis as a model vaccine. Upon stable nuclear transformation of N. oceanica strain CCMP1779 with the codon-optimized VP2 gene, a Venus reporter fusion served to evaluate the strength of different endogenous promoters in transformant populations by qPCR and flow cytometry. The highest VP2 yields were achieved for the elongation factor promoter, with enhancer effects by its N-terminal leader sequence. Individual transformants differed in their production capability of reporter-free VP2 by orders of magnitude. When subjecting the best candidates to kinetic analyses of growth and VP2 production in photobioreactors, recombinant protein integrity was maintained until the early stationary growth phase, and a high yield of 4.4% VP2 of total soluble protein was achieved. The maximum yield correlated with multiple integrations of the expression vector into the nuclear genome. The results demonstrate that N. oceanica was successfully engineered to constitute a robust platform for high-level production of a model subunit vaccine. The molecular methodology established here can likely be adapted in a straightforward manner to the production of further vaccines in the same host, allowing their distribution to fish, vertebrates, or humans via a microalgae-containing diet. KEY POINTS: • We engineered N. oceanica for recombinant protein production. • The antigenic surface protein 2 of IPN virus could indeed be expressed in the host. • A high yield of 4.4% VP2 of total soluble protein was achieved in N. oceanica.