Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 19, pp 8373–8388 | Cite as

Building a toolbox of protein scaffolds for future immobilization of biocatalysts

  • Sarah Schmidt-Dannert
  • Guoqiang Zhang
  • Timothy Johnston
  • Maureen B. QuinEmail author
  • Claudia Schmidt-DannertEmail author
Biotechnologically relevant enzymes and proteins


Biological materials that are genetically encoded and can self-assemble offer great potential as immobilization platforms in industrial biocatalysis. Protein-based scaffolds can be used for the spatial organization of enzymes, to stabilize the catalysts and provide optimal microenvironments for reaction sequences. In our previous work, we created a protein scaffold for enzyme localization by engineering the bacterial microcompartment shell protein EutM from Salmonella enterica. Here, we sought to expand this work by developing a toolbox of EutM proteins with different properties, with the potential to be used for future immobilization of enzymes. We describe the bioinformatic identification of hundreds of homologs of EutM from diverse microorganisms. We specifically select 13 EutM homologs from extremophiles for characterization, based on phylogenetic analyses. We synthesize genes encoding the novel proteins, clone and express them in E. coli, and purify the proteins. In vitro characterization shows that the proteins self-assemble into robust nano- and micron-scale architectures including protein nanotubes, filaments, and scaffolds. We explore the self-assembly characteristics from a sequence-based approach and create a synthetic biology platform for the coexpression of different EutM homologs as hybrid scaffolds with integrated enzyme attachment points. This work represents a step towards our goal of generating a modular toolbox for the rapid production of self-assembling protein-based materials for enzyme immobilization.


Protein scaffolds Immobilization Synthetic biology Spatial organization Self-assembly 



This research was supported by Defense Threat Reduction Agency Grant HDTRA-15-0004 and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Contract HR0011-17-2-0038. S.S.-D. and T. J. were supported by funding from a Grand Challenge research award from the University of Minnesota.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

253_2018_9252_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1353 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and BiophysicsUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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