Designed by: Laura de Arroyo Garcia   Group: iGEM14_Imperial   (2014-10-08)


This part contains the coding sequence, previously codon-optimised for expression in Escherichia coli, of the Cellulose Synthase enzyme. In Gluconacetobacter xylinus, the Acs cellulose synthesis operon is a functional unit that codes for four essential elements for cellulose assembly and secretion to the extracellular space. Cellulose synthase is one of such subunits. It is made up of two main domains, a catalytic domain (AcsA) and a regulatory domain (AcsB), which are transcribed and translated in the form of a single, functional unit with both regulatory and catalytic activities. The regulatory domain binds the second messenger c-di-GMP and activates the process, whilst the catalytic domain catalyses the polymerisation of cellulose from UDP-glucose.

Usage and Biology

BBa_K1321334 was cloned into part BBa_K1321333 by Biobrick cloning, to yield BBa_K1321336. The destination vector, containing the AraC-pBAD regulatory elements, was linearized using SpeI and PstI, and AcsAB (previously digested with XbaI and PstI) was ligated at a 1:1 ratio using the T4 ligase. The ligation mix was transformed into chemically competent DH10B Escherichia coli and plated on LB Agar+Chloramphenicol plates, then incubated overnight at 37 degrees. 50 mL Falcon tubes containing 5 ml LB supplied with 50 ug/ml Chloramphenicol were inoculated with a selection of freshly grown colonies for further restriction analysis and gene sequencing verification.

BBa_K1321336 was characterised in conjunction to an additional pLAC-inducible expression system containing AcsC and AcsD (optimised coding sequences submitted as Part BBa_K1321335) cloned into a medium-to-low copy number plasmid, pSB3K3. The functions of AcsC and AcsD are yet not very well known but are believed to play a crucial role in cellulose crystallisation and secretion into the extracellular space.

Cellulose production was assayed by plating transformed cells on Congo Red assay plates containing 20uM CR, 0.5mM IPTG, 0.1% Arabinose, 1% Glucose, 25ug/ml Chloramphenicol and 25ug/ml Kanamycin. Cellulose-producing E.coli colonies turned red in the presence of CR.

Figure 1 - Congo Red assay, positive colonies
Figure 2 - Congo Red assay, negative control
Figure 3 - Congo Red assay, cellulose-producing E.coli (red), empty vector control (colorless)

Whilst the AcsC and AcsD elements of the cellulose synthesis operon (coded in part BBa_K1321335) are needed for cellulose secretion into the extracellular space, we were interested in exploring whether AcsAB only would be enough to produce the polymer in E.coli. The functionality of part BBa_K1321336 was assayed by inducing the system with 0.1% Arabinose in 5mL LB supplied with 1% Glucose and Chloramphenicol. Overnight incubations were set up at 30 °C and 37 °C, and both empty vector controls and un-induced controls were also assayed for cellulose production.

Figure 3 - Assaying Congo Red (CR) binding by measuring the changes in absorbance at 490nm

During sonication, LB, soluble and non-soluble fractions were produced and kept for further analysis. Congo Red (CR) at a concentration of 20uM was added to all samples, which were then incubated for 2 hours at room temperature and static conditions, prior to absorbance measurements being taken at 490nm. By subtracting the absorbance values of the samples from the absorbance value of a PBS+CR control, it is possible to qualitatively assay the shift in spectral properties of the diazo dye, driven by CR binding to the cellulose fibres.

Figure 4 - Assaying Congo Red (CR) binding by measuring the changes in absorbance at 490nm

Because AcsC and AcsD were absent, the LB and soluble fractions derived from sonication were expected to contain no cellulose; the main reason being due to the inability of the cells to extrude the fibers, in addition to cellulose being highly hydrophobic hence should precipitate together with the remaining immiscible cellular elements released during sonication. As predicted, no spectral changes were reported in the LB (figure 3) and soluble fractions (data not shown), however these were observed on non-soluble samples (figure 4) derived from cultures grown at 30 degrees and static conditions (figure 2). These results, supported with two biological repeats and technical triplicates, suggest that BBa_K1321336 is functional and able to produce some cellulose at 30 degrees, in the absence of AcsC and AcsD.

Sequence and Features

Assembly Compatibility:
  • 10
  • 12
  • 21
    Illegal BglII site found at 1831
    Illegal BglII site found at 2545
    Illegal BglII site found at 4468
    Illegal BamHI site found at 841
    Illegal BamHI site found at 3835
  • 23
  • 25
    Illegal AgeI site found at 1817
    Illegal AgeI site found at 1894
    Illegal AgeI site found at 2450
    Illegal AgeI site found at 3251
    Illegal AgeI site found at 3343
    Illegal AgeI site found at 3449
  • 1000