• Authors: Steffen, W., Ko, F. C., Patel, J., Lyamichev, V., Albert, T., Benz, J., Rudolph, M. G., Bergmann, F., Streidl, T., Kratzsch, P., Boenitz-Dulat, M., Oelschlaegel, T., Schraeml, M.
  • Year: 2017
  • Journal: J Biol Chem
  • Applications: in vitro / DNA / PEIpro
  • Cell type: HEK-293-F
    Description: Human embryonic kidney Fibroblast
    Known as: FreeStyle 293-F, HEK293-F, 293-F


Both plasmids encoding heavy and light chain were co-transfected into suspension-adapted human embryonic kidney HEK-293-F cells. HEK-293-F cells were cultured in shaker flasks at 37 °C in FreeStyle 293 expression medium under serum-free medium conditions. The cells were transfected at approximately 2x10^6 vc/ml with the expression plasmids (0.5 mg/L cell culture) complexed by PEIpro transfection reagent (1.3 ml/L cell culture) in PBS buffer. The culture supernatant was collected at day 7 post-transfection by centrifugation.


Microbial transglutaminases (MTGs) catalyze the formation of Gln-Lys isopeptide bonds and are widely used for the crosslinking of proteins and peptides in food and biotechnological applications, for example, to improve the texture of protein-rich foods or in generating antibody-drug conjugates. Currently used MTGs have low substrate specificity, impeding their biotechnological use as enzymes that don't cross-react with nontarget substrates (i.e. as bio-orthogonal labeling systems). Here, we report the discovery of a MTG from Kutzneria albida (KalbTG) which exhibited no cross-reactivity with known MTG substrates or commonly used target proteins such as antibodies. KalbTG was produced in E. coli as soluble and active enzyme in the presence of its natural inhibitor ammonium to prevent potentially toxic cross-linking activity. The crystal structure of KalbTG revealed a conserved core similar to other MTGs but very short surface loops, making it the smallest MTG characterized to date. Ultra-dense peptide array technology involving a pool of 1.4 million unique peptides identified specific recognition motifs for KalbTG in these peptides. We determined that the motifs YRYRQ and RYESK are the best Gln and Lys substrates of KalbTG, respectively. By first reacting a bifunctionalized peptide with the more specific KalbTG and in a second step with the less specific MTG from Streptomyces mobaraensis, a successful bio-orthogonal labeling system was demonstrated. Fusing the KalbTG recognition motif to an antibody allowed for site-specific and ratio-controlled labeling using low label excess. Its site-specificity, favorable kinetics, ease-of-use, and cost-effective production render KalbTG an attractive tool for a broad range of applications, including production of therapeutic antibody-drug conjugates.