Modification of the endoplasmic reticulum morphology enables improved recombinant antibody expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Laura R.K. Niemelä, Essi V. Koskela, Alexander D. Frey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a versatile cell factory used for manufacturing of a wide range of products, among them recombinant proteins. Protein folding is one of the rate-limiting processes and this shortcoming is often overcome by the expression of folding catalysts and chaperones in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In this work, we aimed to establish the impact of ER structure on cellular productivity. The reticulon proteins Rtn1p and Rtn2p, and Yop1p are membrane curvature inducing proteins that define the morphology of the ER and depletion of these proteins creates yeast cells with a higher ER sheet-to-tubule ratio. We created yeast strains with different combinations of deletions of Rtn1p, Rtn2p, and Yop1p coding genes in cells with a normal or expanded ER lumen. We identified strains that reached up to 2.2-fold higher antibody titres compared to the control strain. The expanded ER membrane reached by deletion of the lipid biosynthesis repressor OPI1 was essential for the increased productivity. The improved specific productivity was accompanied by an up to 2-fold enlarged ER surface area and a 1.5-fold increased cross-sectional cell area. Furthermore, the strains with enlarged ER displayed an attenuated unfolded protein response. These results underline the impact that ER structures have on productivity and support the notion that reprogramming subcellular structures belongs into the toolbox of synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Early online date4 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Endoplasmic reticulum
  • Recombinant protein expression
  • Reticulon
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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