The proline analogue cis-4-hydroxy-l-proline (CHOP), which inhibits the biosynthesis of collagen, has been clinically evaluated as an anticancer drug, but its water solubility and low molecular weight limits its therapeutic potential since it is rapidly excreted. In addition, CHOP is too toxic to be practical as an anticancer drug, due primarily to its systematic effects on noncollagen proteins. To promote CHOP's retention in blood and/or to decrease its toxicity, N-acetylation of CHOP might be a novel approach as a prodrug. The present study was designed to achieve the microbial production of N-acetyl CHOP from l-proline by coexpression of l-proline cis-4-hydroxylases converting l-proline into CHOP (SmP4H) from the Rhizobium Sinorhizobium meliloti and N-acetyltransferase converting CHOP into N-acetyl CHOP (Mpr1) from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We constructed a coexpression plasmid harboring both the SmP4H and Mpr1 genes and introduced it into Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) or its l-proline oxidase gene-disrupted (ΔputA) strain. M9 medium containing l-proline produced more N-acetyl CHOP than LB medium containing l-proline. E. coli ΔputA cells accumulated l-proline (by approximately 2-fold) compared to that in wild-type cells, but there was no significant difference in CHOP production between wild-type and ΔputA cells. The addition of NaCl and l-ascorbate resulted in a 2-fold increase in N-acetyl CHOP production in the l-proline-containing M9 medium. The highest yield of N-acetyl CHOP was achieved at 42 h cultivation in the optimized medium. Five unknown compounds were detected in the total protein reaction, probably due to the degradation of N-acetyl CHOP. Our results suggest that weakening of the degradation or deacetylation pathway improves the productivity of N-acetyl CHOP.
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