Building a toolbox of protein scaffolds for future immobilization of biocatalysts

Sarah Schmidt-Dannert, Guoqiang Zhang, Timothy Johnston, Maureen B. Quin, Claudia Schmidt-Dannert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Biological materials that are genetically encoded and can self-assemble offer great potential as immobilization platforms in industrial biocatalysis. Protein-based scaffolds can be used for the spatial organization of enzymes, to stabilize the catalysts and provide optimal microenvironments for reaction sequences. In our previous work, we created a protein scaffold for enzyme localization by engineering the bacterial microcompartment shell protein EutM from Salmonella enterica. Here, we sought to expand this work by developing a toolbox of EutM proteins with different properties, with the potential to be used for future immobilization of enzymes. We describe the bioinformatic identification of hundreds of homologs of EutM from diverse microorganisms. We specifically select 13 EutM homologs from extremophiles for characterization, based on phylogenetic analyses. We synthesize genes encoding the novel proteins, clone and express them in E. coli, and purify the proteins. In vitro characterization shows that the proteins self-assemble into robust nano- and micron-scale architectures including protein nanotubes, filaments, and scaffolds. We explore the self-assembly characteristics from a sequence-based approach and create a synthetic biology platform for the coexpression of different EutM homologs as hybrid scaffolds with integrated enzyme attachment points. This work represents a step towards our goal of generating a modular toolbox for the rapid production of self-assembling protein-based materials for enzyme immobilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8373-8388
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was supported by Defense Threat Reduction Agency Grant HDTRA-15-0004 and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Contract HR0011-17-2-0038. S.S.-D. and T. J. were supported by funding from a Grand Challenge research award from the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Immobilization
  • Protein scaffolds
  • Self-assembly
  • Spatial organization
  • Synthetic biology


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