Functional protein-based nanomaterial produced in microorganisms recognized as safe: A new platform for biotechnology

Olivia Cano-Garrido, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Sílvia Parés, Irene Giró, Witold I. Tatkiewicz, Neus Ferrer-Miralles, Imma Ratera, Antonino Natalello, Rafael Cubarsi, Jaume Veciana, Àlex Bach, Antonio Villaverde, Anna Arís, Elena Garcia-Fruitós

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Acta Materialia Inc. Inclusion bodies (IBs) are protein-based nanoparticles formed in Escherichia coli through stereospecific aggregation processes during the overexpression of recombinant proteins. In the last years, it has been shown that IBs can be used as nanostructured biomaterials to stimulate mammalian cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation. In addition, these nanoparticles have also been explored as natural delivery systems for protein replacement therapies. Although the production of these protein-based nanomaterials in E. coli is economically viable, important safety concerns related to the presence of endotoxins in the products derived from this microorganism need to be addressed. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are a group of food-grade microorganisms that have been classified as safe by biologically regulatory agencies. In this context, we have demonstrated herein, for the first time, the production of fully functional, IB-like protein nanoparticles in LAB. These nanoparticles have been fully characterized using a wide range of techniques, including field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, zymography, cytometry, confocal microscopy, and wettability and cell coverage measurements. Our results allow us to conclude that these materials share the main physico-chemical characteristics with IBs from E. coli and moreover are devoid of any harmful endotoxin contaminant. These findings reveal a new platform for the production of protein-based safe products with high pharmaceutical interest. Statement of Significance The development of both natural and synthetic biomaterials for biomedical applications is a field in constant development. In this context, E. coli is a bacteria that has been widely studied for its ability to naturally produce functional biomaterials with broad biomedical uses. Despite being effective, products derived from this species contain membrane residues able to trigger a non-desired immunogenic responses. Accordingly, exploring alternative bacteria able to synthesize such biomaterials in a safe molecular environment is becoming a challenge. Thus, the present study describes a new type of functional protein-based nanomaterial free of toxic contaminants with a wide range of applications in both human and veterinary medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-239
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Endotoxin-free
  • Functional nanomaterials
  • GRAS
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Nanoparticles


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