Development of recombinant methioninase for cancer treatment

Robert M. Hoffman, Yuying Tan, Shukuan Li, Qinghong Han, Shigeo Yagi, Tomoaki Takakura, Akio Takimoto, Kenji Inagaki, Daizou Kudou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


The elevated requirement for methionine (MET) of cancer cells is termed MET dependence. To selectively target the MET dependence of tumors for treatment on a large-scale preclinical and clinical basis, the l-methionine α-deamino-γ-mercaptomethane-lyase (EC (methioninase, [METase]) gene from Pseudomonas putida has been cloned in Escherichia coli using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Purification using two DEAE Sepharose FF ion-exchange column and one ActiClean Etox endotoxin-affinity chromatography column has been established. Plasmid pMGLTrc03, which has a trc promoter and a spacing of 12 nucleotides between the Shine-Dalgarno sequence and the ATG translation initiation codon, was selected as the most suitable plasmid. The recombinant bacteria produced rMETase at 43% of the total proteins in soluble fraction by simple batch fermentation using a 500 L fermentor. Crystals were directly obtained from crude enzyme with 87% yield by a crystallization in the presence of 9.0% polyethylene glycol 6000, 3.6% ammonium sulfate, and 0.18 M sodium chloride using a 100 L crystallizer. After recrystallization, the enzyme was purified by anion-exchange column chromatography to remove endotoxins and by gel filtration for polishing. Purified rMETase is stable to lyophilization. In order to prevent immunological reactions which might be produced by multiple dosing of rMETase and to prolong the serum half-life of rMETase, the N-hydroxysuccinimidyl ester of methoxypolyethylene glycol propionic acid (M-SPA-PEG 5000) has been coupled to rMETase. The PEGylated molecules (PEG-rMETase) were purified from unreacted PEG with Amicon 30 K centriprep concentrators or by Sephacryl S-300 HR gel-filtration chromatography. Unreacted rMETase was removed by DEAE Sepharose FF anion-exchange chromatography. The resulting PEG-rMETase subunit, produced from a PEG/rMETase ratio of 30/1 in the synthetic reaction, had a molecular mass of approximately 53 kda determined by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry, indicating the conjugation of two PEG molecules per subunit of rMETase and eight per tetramer. PEG-rMETase molecules obtained from reacting ratios of PEG/rMETase of 30/1 had an enzyme activity of 70% of unmodified rMETase. PEGylation of rMETase increased the serum half-life of the enzyme in rats to approximately 160 min compared to 80 min for unmodified rMETase. PEG-rMETase could deplete serum MET levels to less than 0.1 μM for approximately 8 h compared to 2 h for rMETase in rats. A significant prolongation of in vivo activity and effective MET depletion by the PEG-rMETase were achieved by the simultaneous administration of pyridoxal 5′-phosphate. rMETase was also conjugated with methoxypolyethylene glycol succinimidyl glutarate 5000 (MEGC-PEG). Miniosmotic pumps containing various concentrations of PLP were implanted in BALB-C mice. PLP-infused mice were then injected with a single dose of 4000 or 8000 units/kg PEG-rMETase. Mice infused with 5, 50, 100, 200, and 500 mg/mL PLP-containing miniosmotic pumps increased plasma PLP to 7, 24, 34, 60, and 95 μm, respectively, from the PLP baseline of 0.3 μm. PLP increased the half-life of MEGC-PEG-rMETase holoenzyme in a dose-dependent manner. The extended time of MET depletion by MEGC-PEG-rMETase was due to the maintenance of active MEGC-PEG-rMETase holoenzyme by infused PLP.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • 3-Dimensional structure
  • Anticancer efficacy
  • Cancer
  • Crystallization
  • Industrial purification
  • Methioninase
  • Methionine dependence
  • Methionine restriction
  • Methoxypolyethylene glycol
  • PEG
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Pyridoxal-l-phosphate
  • Recombinant methioninase
  • Succinimide glutarate
  • l-Methionine α-deamino
  • rMETase
  • α-mercaptomethane lyase [EC4.4.1.11]

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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