The fungal protein factory: increasing the number and variety of production units and production facilities

Ronald de Vries, Ana Levin 

Filamentous fungi form mycelia by means of branching hyphae and are capable of secreting high levels of proteins into their culture medium. Therefore they are widely used as production systems for proteins of medical or industrial interest. Homologous production of proteins (the gene encoding the protein originates from the organism itself) has been very successful for a number of applications, but heterologous protein production (the gene encoding the protein originates from a different organism) is still problematic.

Within the mycelium different secretory types of hyphae can be distinguished, each secreting particular proteins. These secreting hyphae appear to be a minority of the total number of hyphae in the mycelium, suggesting that protein production can be improved by increasing the percentage of secreting hyphae.

In this project the differential secretion of proteins in the ascomycete Aspergillus nigerand the basidiomycetes Schizophyllum commune and Pycnoporus cinnabarinus is studied. The emphasis of the study is on the nature of the hyphal differentiation and the regulatory systems involved in the differentiation. This knowledge will be used to improve protein production in fungi and to develop the use of basidiomycetes as protein production systems.