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The autotransporter protein secretion system has been used previously to target the secretion of heterologous proteins to the bacterial cell surface and the extracellular milieu at the laboratory scale. The platform is of particular interest for the production of "difficult" recombinant proteins that might cause toxic effects when produced intracellularly. One such protein is IrmA. IrmA is a vaccine candidate that is produced in inclusion bodies requiring refolding. Here, we describe the use and scale-up of the autotransporter system for the secretion of an industrially relevant protein (IrmA). A plasmid expressing IrmA was constructed such that the autotransporter platform could secrete IrmA into the culture supernatant fraction. The autotransporter platform was suitable for the production and purification of IrmA with comparable physical properties to the protein produced in the cytoplasm. The production of IrmA was translated to scale-up protein production conditions resulting in a yield of 29.3 mg/L of IrmA from the culture supernatant, which is consistent with yields of current industrial processes. IMPORTANCE Recombinant protein production is an essential component of the biotechnology sector. Here, we show that the autotransporter platform is a viable method for the recombinant production, secretion, and purification of a "difficult" to produce protein on an industrially relevant scale. Use of the autotransporter platform could reduce the number of downstream processing operations required, thus accelerating the development time and reducing costs for recombinant protein production.

Original publication




Journal article


Microbiol Spectr

Publication Date





Escherichia coli, Pet autotransporter platform, autotransporter, autotransporter proteins, inclusion bodies, protein secretion, recombinant protein production, secretion, Escherichia coli, Type V Secretion Systems, Recombinant Proteins, Escherichia coli Proteins, Cell Membrane