Development of a synthetic cumate-inducible gene expression system for Bacillus

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A novel inducible gene expression system using p-isopropyl benzoate (cumate) as an inducer was developed for the industrial production hosts, Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus megaterium. Cumate is non-toxic to the host, inexpensive, and carbon source-independent inducer which provides an economical option for large-scale production of valuable proteins and chemicals from Bacillus strains. The synthetic cumate-inducible system was constructed by combining the strong constitutive Bacillus promoter Pveg with regulatory elements of the Pseudomonas putida, CymR repressor, and its operator sequence CuO. The designed expression cassette containing a sfGFP reporter under the cumate-inducible promoter was assembled into a Bacillus-E. coli shuttle and gene expression investigated in the two Bacillus strains. Characterization of gene expression levels, expression kinetics, and dose-response to cumate inducer concentration confirmed high-level, but tightly controlled GFP reporter expression in tunable, cumate concentration-dependent manner. Unexpectedly, this expression system works equally well for Escherichia coli, resulting in a platform that can be used both in gram-positive and gram-negative expression host. Its tight regulation and controllable expression makes this system useful for metabolic engineering, synthetic biology studies as well industrial protein production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-313
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

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

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bacillus megaterium
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Cumate
  • Gene expression
  • Promoter
  • Synthetic biology


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