Whole cell-based catalyst for enzymatic production of the osmolyte 2-O-α-glucosylglycerol

Katharina N. Schwaiger, Monika Cserjan-Puschmann, Gerald Striedner, Bernd Nidetzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Glucosylglycerol (2-O-α-d-glucosyl-sn-glycerol; GG) is a natural osmolyte from bacteria and plants. It has promising applications as cosmetic and food-and-feed ingredient. Due to its natural scarcity, GG must be prepared through dedicated synthesis, and an industrial bioprocess for GG production has been implemented. This process uses sucrose phosphorylase (SucP)-catalyzed glycosylation of glycerol from sucrose, applying the isolated enzyme in immobilized form. A whole cell-based enzyme formulation might constitute an advanced catalyst for GG production. Here, recombinant production in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) was compared systematically for the SucPs from Leuconostoc mesenteroides (LmSucP) and Bifidobacterium adolescentis (BaSucP) with the purpose of whole cell catalyst development. Results: Expression from pQE30 and pET21 plasmids in E. coli BL21(DE3) gave recombinant protein at 40–50% share of total intracellular protein, with the monomeric LmSucP mostly soluble (≥ 80%) and the homodimeric BaSucP more prominently insoluble (~ 40%). The cell lysate specific activity of LmSucP was 2.8-fold (pET21; 70 ± 24 U/mg; N = 5) and 1.4-fold (pQE30; 54 ± 9 U/mg, N = 5) higher than that of BaSucP. Synthesis reactions revealed LmSucP was more regio-selective for glycerol glycosylation (~ 88%; position O2 compared to O1) than BaSucP (~ 66%), thus identifying LmSucP as the enzyme of choice for GG production. Fed-batch bioreactor cultivations at controlled low specific growth rate (µ = 0.05 h−1; 28 °C) for LmSucP production (pET21) yielded ~ 40 g cell dry mass (CDM)/L with an activity of 2.0 × 104 U/g CDM, corresponding to 39 U/mg protein. The same production from the pQE30 plasmid gave a lower yield of 6.5 × 103 U/g CDM, equivalent to 13 U/mg. A single freeze–thaw cycle exposed ~ 70% of the intracellular enzyme activity for GG production (~ 65 g/L, ~ 90% yield from sucrose), without releasing it from the cells during the reaction. Conclusions: Compared to BaSucP, LmSucP is preferred for regio-selective GG production. Expression from pET21 and pQE30 plasmids enables high-yield bioreactor production of the enzyme as a whole cell catalyst. The freeze–thaw treated cells represent a highly active, solid formulation of the LmSucP for practical synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • 2-O-α-glucosylglycerol
  • Fed-batch fermentation
  • High-yield protein expression
  • Sucrose phosphorylase
  • Whole-cell biotransformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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