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RCT and VIB complete innovative sequencing of Pichia pastoris genome


  • Results published in June 2009 issue of Nature Biotechnology
  • Genomic sequence increases usefulness of RCT’s Pichia platform, including improvements to produce human glycoproteins in Pichia GlycoSwitch

Research Corporation Technologies (RCT) partner Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) has sequenced and annotated the genome for Pichia pastoris, the cornerstone of RCT’s Pichia protein expression platform. Pichia has become one of the more widely used microbial production hosts to express recombinant proteins, with more than 120 companies using RCT’s platform worldwide.

The sequencing and methods are detailed in the June issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology. Two of the authors, Nico Callewaert, Ph.D., and Kristof De Schutter, Ph.D., will speak in October at Pichia 2009, a conference dedicated to protein expression in Tucson, Ariz.

“The Pichia pastoris genome represents the first complete eukaryotic genome to be characterized using the new 454/Roche method without prior detailed genetic mapping, but assembled directly from shotgun DNA sequence reads. The 20-fold coverage provides extremely accurate sequence data with error rates of less than 1 in 30,000,” said Callewaert.

“The wealth of information provided by a full genome sequence will enable a more rapid development of Pichia pastoris as a protein expression host, building on its exceptional natural capacity for heterologous protein production. The stage is set for Pichia pastoris to become an even more important expression system for biopharmaceutical proteins,” conclude the paper’s authors. See the Nature Biotechnology website (www.nature.com/nbt) for the article abstract.

RCT’s Pichia GlycoSwitch® promises to play an important role on the biologics stage. Through genetic modifications to Pichia, RCT and VIB have created new strains which homogeneously glycosylate proteins in a human-like manner. ThePichia GlycoSwitch® system can be used to produce glycoproteins that should have novel applications for human therapies.

“The genome also promises improvements applicable to any protein, whether it is glycosylated or not. These improvements include increased productivity, higher homogeneity and improved stability,” said David Bramhill, Ph.D., Director of RCT’s Gene eXpression Technologies (GXT) program.

“The sequencing of the Pichia genome has revealed patentable improvements and is one part of our larger plans to improve the usefulness of our Pichia platform,” said Shaun A. Kirkpatrick, RCT President and CEO. “We will continue to offer a range of improvements to existing users of the Pichia Expression system while seeking new business opportunities for the production of human glycoproteins in the Pichia GlycoSwitch® system.”

About RCT:

RCT is a Tucson-based technology investment and management company that provides early-stage funding and development for promising biomedical companies and technologies. RCT focuses on technology investments with origins from universities and research institutions worldwide. To learn more, see RCTech.com.

About VIB:

Located in Ghent, Belgium, VIB is a non-profit scientific research institute specializing in gene technology and focusing on three complementary core activities: strategic research, active technology transfer, and scientific information for the general public. For more information, see VIB.be/VIB/EN/.

About Pichia:

RCT’s Pichia platform includes Pichia Expression and Pichia GlycoSwitch®. PichiaExpression is used for producing non-glycosylated products, or for products in which yeast glycosylation is acceptable. Pichia GlycoSwitch® is used for producing human-like glycosylated products.

RCT makes the Pichia Expression system widely available to users through flexible non-exclusive licensing arrangements. The system can be evaluated initially by purchasing various types of kits from RCT’s partner, Invitrogen Corporation (Invitrogen.com). More information about Pichia GlycoSwitch® can be obtained by contacting RCT.

For more information about Pichia, contact David Bramhill at 520-748-4443 or DBramhill@RCTech.com.

To register for the Pichia 2009 conference, see Pichia.com. For more information, contact Andrea Isner, assistant to Bramhill, at 520-748-4468 or AIsner@RCTech.com.