Heterologous protein secretion in Lactococcus lactis: a novel antigen delivery system

Braz J Med Biol Res. 1999 Feb;32(2):191-8. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x1999000200007.


Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are Gram-positive bacteria and are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) organisms. Therefore, LAB could be used for heterologous protein secretion and they are good potential candidates as antigen delivery vehicles. To develop such live vaccines, a better control of protein secretion is required. We developed an efficient secretion system in the model LAB, Lactococcus lactis. Staphylococcal nuclease (Nuc) was used as the reporter protein. We first observed that the quantity of secreted Nuc correlated with the copy number of the cloning vector. The nuc gene was cloned on a high-copy number cloning vector and no perturbation of the metabolism of the secreting strain was observed. Replacement of nuc native promoter by a strong lactococcal one led to a significant increase of nuc expression. Secretion efficiency (SE) of Nuc in L. lactis was low, i.e., only 60% of the synthesized Nuc was secreted. Insertion of a synthetic propeptide between the signal peptide and the mature moiety of Nuc increased the SE of Nuc. On the basis of these results, we developed a secretion system and we applied it to the construction of an L. lactis strain which secretes a bovine coronavirus (BCV) epitopeprotein fusion (BCV-Nuc). BCV-Nuc was recognized by both anti-BCV and anti-Nuc antibodies. Secretion of this antigenic fusion is the first step towards the development of a novel antigen delivery system based on LAB-secreting strains.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens / administration & dosage
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Coronavirus, Bovine
  • Epitopes*
  • Lactococcus lactis / metabolism*
  • Micrococcal Nuclease / metabolism


  • Antigens
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Epitopes
  • Micrococcal Nuclease