Optimized Bacterial Expression Strains

Deletion of the DE3 prophage from E. coli expression strain BL21(DE3) and pgl gene knock-in



E. coli T7E1

Problem: The popular T7 expression strain BL21(DE3) carries an inducible copy of the T7 RNA polymerase in a lysogenized DE3 prophage. While this allows for stable expression of the T7 RNA polymerase, the DE3 prophage remains functional and may spontaneously be induced to enter a lytic lifecycle.

Solution: To solve this problem, 89% of the DE3 prophage sequence was removed from the genome of E. coli BL21(DE3). The resulting optimized strain T7E1 has no risk of phage activity yet maintains the consistent bacterial growth and heterologous protein expression productivity of its parent strain, BL21(DE3).


E. coli T7E2

Problem: E. coli B strains are pgl-deficient, a mutation that can be traced back to a UV-induced deletion of the galM-ybhJ locus found in the parental strain E. coli B707. The pgl gene encodes the enzyme 6-phosphogluconolactonase (PGL), which catalyzes hydrolysis of 6-phosphogluconolactone to 6-phosphogluconate. Loss of PGL enzymatic activity negatively impacts E. coli metabolism and leads to non-specific protein gluconoylation. In the absence of PGL, its electrophilic substrate (6-phosphogluconolactone) accumulates, which leads to random protein gluconoylation. In wildtype BL21(DE3), 6.4% of recombinantly expressed protein was shown to have undesired gluconoylation.

Solution: The pgl gene was integrated into the strain T7E1 (see above), creating the strain T7E2. The optimized strain T7E2 eliminates undesired gluconoylation during recombinatant protein expression¹.




¹ Noll S, Reyelt J, Rysiok T, Kellner R, Güssow D, Jäkel S, Hager S and Kranz H, 2013, Gezielte Optimierung von Escherichia coli BL21(DE3), Biospektrum, 19, 211

For more information please contact our service team in Heidelberg, Germany: contact (at) gen-h.de


Gen-H Genetic Engineering Heidelberg GmbH
Im Neuenheimer Feld 584
69120 Heidelberg

Phone : +49 6221 1370811
Fax : +49 6221 1370829
contact (at) gen-h.de

Genetic Engineering Made in Germany

Get everything to know about our services

How to find us

Gen-H Genetic Engineering Heidelberg GmbH
Im Neuenheimer Feld 584
69120 Heidelberg