Redox engineering by ectopic overexpression of NADH Kinase in recombinant pichia pastoris (Komagataella phaffii): Impact on cell physiology and recombinant production of secreted proteins

Màrius Tomàs-Gamisans, Cristiane Conte Paim Andrade, Francisco Maresca, Sergi Monforte, Pau Ferrer, Joan Albiol*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


High-level expression and secretion of heterologous proteins in yeast cause an increased energy demand, which may result in altered metabolic flux distributions. Moreover, recombinant protein overproduction often results in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and oxidative stress, causing deviations from the optimal NAD(P)H regeneration balance. In this context, overexpression of genes encoding enzymes catalyzing endogenous NADPH-producing reactions, such as the oxidative branch of the pentose phosphate pathway, has been previously shown to improve protein production in Pichia pastoris (syn. Komagataella spp.). In this study, we evaluate the overexpression of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae POS5-encoded NADH kinase in a recombinant P. pastoris strain as an alternative approach to overcome such redox constraints. Specifically, POS5 was cooverexpressed in a strain secreting an antibody fragment, either by directing Pos5 to the cytosol or to the mitochondria. The physiology of the resulting strains was evaluated in continuous cultivations with glycerol or glucose as the sole carbon source, as well as under hypoxia (on glucose). Cytosolic targeting of Pos5 NADH kinase resulted in lower biomass-substrate yields but allowed for a 2-fold increase in product specific productivity. In contrast, Pos5 NADH kinase targeting to the mitochondria did not affect growth physiology and recombinant protein production significantly. Growth physiological parameters were in silico evaluated using the recent upgraded version (v3.0) of the P. pastoris consensus genome-scale metabolic model iMT1026, providing insights on the impact of POS5 overexpression on metabolic flux distributions. IMPORTANCE Recombinant protein overproduction often results in oxidative stress, causing deviations from the optimal redox cofactor regeneration balance. This becomes one of the limiting factors in obtaining high levels of heterologous protein production. Overexpression of redox-affecting enzymes has been explored in other organisms, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as a means to fine tune the cofactor regeneration balance in order to obtain higher protein titers. In the present work, this strategy is explored in P. pastoris. In particular, one NADH kinase enzyme from S. cerevisiae (Pos5) is used, either in the cytosol or in mitochondria of P. pastoris, and its impact on the production of a model protein (antibody fragment) is evaluated. A significant improvement in the production of the model protein is observed when the kinase is directed to the cytosol. These results are significant in the field of heterologous protein production in general and in particular in the development of improved metabolic engineering strategies for P. pastoris.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02038-19
Number of pages15
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Heterologous protein production
  • NADH kinase
  • Pichia pastoris
  • Pos5
  • Redox engineering


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