[MCP] Penicillin: Gone Industrial

A proteomic comparison of three Penicillium chrysogenum isolates revealed networks and pathways that are modified during strain improvement programs.

Although Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic effect of penicillin in 1928, his fungal isolate, Penicillium notatum, did not produce enough of the antibiotic for mass production. In 1944, the combination of new fermentation methods and the isolation of Penicillium chrysogenum, which produced 100-times more penicillin, enabled mass production and distribution of the antibiotic. Since then, P. chrysogenum strains have undergone several rounds of classical and mutation-induced selections, generating isolates that can produce up to 50,000mg/mL of penicillin. In this joint study from the Universidad de León and INBIOTEC, Spain, the authors perform a detailed comparative analysis of the proteomes from three P. chrysogenum isolates that exhibit low, medium and high penicillin output – a result of selection during the process of industrial strain improvement. The researchers identified several metabolic changes that appear to increase penicillin production, such as increased cytosine biosynthesis-related proteins and pentose phosphate-related enzymes, as well as decreased carbon-utilization-related enzymes and a putative penicillin-degradation protein. This work gives a global insight into metabolic changes that occur in fungal isolates selected for antibiotic overproduction, providing information that may improve the production of other bioactive secondary metabolites.

Proteome Analysis of the Penicillin Producer Penicillium chrysogenum: Characterization of Protein Changes during the Industrial Strain Improvement

Mohammad-Saeid Jami, et al.

Mol. Cell. Prot. (2010) 9, 1182 – 1198