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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemistry

First Advisor

Pushpalatha Murthy


Phytic acid is the major storage form of phosphorus and inositol in seeds and legumes. It forms insoluble phytate salts by chelating with positively charged mineral ions. Non-ruminant animals are not able to digest phytate due to the lack of phytases in their GI tracks, thus the undigested phytate is excreted leading to environmental contamination. Supplementation with phytases in animal feed has proven to be an effective strategy to alleviate nutritional and environmental issues. The unique catalytic and thermal stability properties of alkaline phytase from lily pollen (LlALP) suggest that it has the potential to be useful as a feed supplement. Our goal is to develop a method for the production of substantial amounts of rLlALP for animal feed and structural studies.

rLlALP2 has been successfully expressed in the yeast, Pichia pastoris. However, expression yield was modest (8-10 mg/L). Gene copy number has been identified as an important parameter in enhancing protein yields. Multicopy clones were selected using Zeocin-resistance-based vectors and challenging transformants to high Zeocin levels under different conditions. Data indicate that increasing selection pressure led to the generation of clones with amplification of both rLlAlp2 and Zeor genes and the two genes were not equally amplified. Additionally, clones generated by step-wise methods led to clones with greater amplification.

The effects of transgene copy number and gene sequence optimization on expression levels of rLlALP2 were examined. The data indicate that increasing the copy number of rLlAlp2 in transformed clones was detrimental to expression level. The use of a sequence-optimized rLlAlp2 (op-rLlAlp2) increased expression yield of the active enzyme by 25-50%, suggesting that transcription and translation efficiency are not major bottlenecks in the production of rLlALP2. Lowering induction temperature to 20 oC led to an increase in enzyme activity of 1.2 to 20-fold, suggesting that protein folding or post-translational processes may be limiting factors for rLlALP2 production. Cumulatively, optimization of copy number, gene sequence optimization and reduced temperature led to increase of rLlALP2 enzyme activity by three-fold (25-30 mg/L).

In an effort to simplify the purification process of rLlALP2, extracellular expression of phytase was investigated. Extracellular expression is dependent on the presence of an appropriate secretion signal upstream of the transgene native signal peptide(s) present in the transgene may also influence secretion efficiency. The data suggest that deletion of both N- and C-terminal signal peptides of rLlALP2 enhanced α-mating factor (α-MF)-driven secretion of LlALP2 by four-fold. The secretion signal peptide of chicken egg white lysozyme was ineffective in secretion rLlALP2 in P. pastoris. To enhance rLlALP2 secretion, effectiveness of the strong inducible promoter (PAOX1) was compared with the constitutive promoter (PGAP). The intracellular yield of rLlALP2 was about four-fold greater under the control of PGAP compared to PAOX1 and extracellular expression level of rLlALP2 was around eight-fold (75-100 mg/L) greater.

The successful production of active rLlALP2 in P. pastoris will allow us to conduct the animal feed supplementation studies and structural studies.