Expression of biologically active murine interleukin-18 inLactococcus lactis

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Abstract

The food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis is increasingly used for heterologous protein expression in therapeutic and industrial applications. The ability of L. lactis to secrete biologically active cytokines may be used for the generation of therapeutic cytokines. Interleukin (IL)-18 enhances the immune response, especially on mucosal surfaces, emphasizing its therapeutic potential. However, it is produced as an inactive precursor and has to be enzymatically cleaved for maturation. We genetically manipulated L. lactis to secrete murine IL-18. The mature murine IL-18 gene was inserted downstream of a nisin promoter in pNZ8149 plasmid and the construct was used to transform L. lactis NZ3900. The transformants were selected on Elliker agar and confirmed by restriction enzyme digestion and sequencing. The expression and secretion of IL-18 protein was verified by SDS-PAGE, western blotting and ELISA. The biological activity of recombinant IL-18 was determined by its ability to induce interferon (IFN)-γ production in L. lactis co-cultured with murine splenic T cells. The amounts of IL-18 in bacterial lysates and supernatants were 3–4 μg mL−1 and 0.6–0.7 ng mL−1, respectively. The successfully generated L. lactis strain that expressed biologically active murine IL-18 can be used to evaluate the possible therapeutic effects of IL-18 on mucosal surfaces.

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