Funding for PhD and Postdoc Available

Two exciting career opportunities are available in the Designer Glycans group starting February 2022. The PhD and postdoctoral positions are fully funded and offer outstanding benefits. Our ambitious independent junior research group has state-of-the-art facilities for carbohydrate analysis, cell imaging and plant cultivation. We are looking for candidates who are interested in synthetic biology, plant cell walls and/or engineered living materials. Both positions will build upon our recent findings, such as:


Voiniciuc et al., 2019, PNAS https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1814003116

Yang et al., 2020, New Phytolhttps://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17056

Robert et al., 2021, bioRxivhttps://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.20.440611

Full descriptions of the positions and how to apply can be downloaded below.

Review of applications begins immediately and will continue until each position is filled. Inquiries can be sent to Catalin.Voiniciuc[at]ipb-halle.de

Update to our bioRxiv preprint

We significantly revised our preprint on the modular biosynthesis of plant heteromannans and uploaded the new version to bioRxiv.

Full-text: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.20.440611v2.full

Original post

New preprint on yeast bioengineering to produce modular plant hemicellulose

Despite rising interest in the engineering of polysaccharide-based biomaterials, relatively little is known about how plant hemicelluloses can be built and tailored in non-plant cell factories. Pichia pastoris is a promising host to study cellulose synthase-like A (CSLA; heteromannan synthases) and CSLC (xyloglucan synthase) activities but the functions of specific protein motifs and the impactContinue reading “New preprint on yeast bioengineering to produce modular plant hemicellulose”

New preprint on yeast bioengineering to produce modular plant hemicellulose

Despite rising interest in the engineering of polysaccharide-based biomaterials, relatively little is known about how plant hemicelluloses can be built and tailored in non-plant cell factories. Pichia pastoris is a promising host to study cellulose synthase-like A (CSLA; heteromannan synthases) and CSLC (xyloglucan synthase) activities but the functions of specific protein motifs and the impact of their products remain unclear. Here, we used a Golden Gate-based system to assemble chimeric CSL enzymes and optimize yeast cultivation to rapidly produce hemicellulose in mg scale.

Part of Figure 1: Schematic of two plant CSLA enzymes, whose protein domains were exchanged in this study to generate a series of chimeric enzymes.

Interestingly, prolonged expression of a konjac AkCSLA3 glucomannan synthase was toxic to yeast cells, but this impairment was restored by swapping its C-terminal region with that of an Arabidopsis AtCSLA2 mannan synthase. Additional chimeras exceeded the yields of the native enzymes. Overall, cell size was increased or decreased depending on the CSLA sequences used.

Part of Figure 2. Mannose (Man) content, representing insoluble heteromannans, is significantly increased in three of the eight chimeric enzymes tested compared to the parental controls.

Part of Figure 5: The growth rate of the AkCSLA3 yeast strain is significantly lower than the rest. Prolonged glucomannan synthase expression also reduces cell integrity, evidenced by the uptake of the trypan blue strain (panel b), and size.

Yeast containing plant-like polysaccharides could be viewed as tunable biological capsules for further metabolic engineering studies. Sensitive macromolecules such as therapeutic proteins can be protected by encapsulation in non-toxic plant polysaccharides and Pichia cells are attractive hosts for recombinant protein production. Therefore, our strategy provides basic insight into matrix polysaccharide biosynthesis and could also be used to encapsulate valuable cargo.

Publication:

M Robert, J Waldhauer, F Stritt, B Yang, M Pauly, C Voiniciuc (2021) Rapid, modular biosynthesis of plant hemicellulose and its impact on yeast cells bioRxiv, https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.20.44061

Two new MSc students join the lab

We are happy to welcome Sooyun Lee and Tilman Jacob to the Designer Glycans lab. Sooyun first joined us for an internship in February to evaluate fluorescent reporters in Pichia pastoris. She will now start her MSc research thesis on secreting proteins from yeast to modify extracellular glycans.

Tilman is a first-year MSc student at the Martin Luther University, who will initially work as a research assistant. Having previously worked with G-protein-coupled receptors in human cell lines, he is not afraid to investigate some our of membrane-bound glycosyltransferases.

View their profiles on The Team page.

Register now for the Leibniz Symposium on Plant Cell Walls

Debora Gasperini, Katharina Bürstenbinder and Catalin Voiniciuc are co-organizing the Leibniz Plant Biochemistry Symposium 2021. This annual conference will be focused on Plant Cell Walls this year, and will be held as an online event for the first time.

We have an exciting speaker line-up and there will be free registration for participants from around the world. Space is limited, so don’t miss out.

Register now: https://webcast.meetyoo.de/reg/dZnJ5vMwozrM

Symposium website: Link

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