Genetic or chemical protease inhibition causes significant changes in the Bacillus subtilis exoproteome

Proteomics. 2008 Jul;8(13):2704-13. doi: 10.1002/pmic.200800009.


Bacillus subtilis is a prolific producer of enzymes and biopharmaceuticals. However, the susceptibility of heterologous proteins to degradation by (extracellular) proteases is a major limitation for use of B. subtilis as a protein cell factory. An increase in protein production levels has previously been achieved by using either protease-deficient strains or addition of protease inhibitors to B. subtilis cultures. Notably, the effects of genetic and chemical inhibition of proteases have thus far not been compared in a systematic way. In the present studies, we therefore compared the exoproteomes of cells in which extracellular proteases were genetically or chemically inactivated. The results show substantial differences in the relative abundance of various extracellular proteins. Furthermore, a comparison of the effects of genetic and/or chemical protease inhibition on the stress response triggered by (over) production of secreted proteins showed that chemical protease inhibition provoked a genuine secretion stress response. From a physiological point of view, this suggests that the deletion of protease genes is a better way to prevent product degradation than the use of protease inhibitors. Importantly however, studies with human interleukin-3 show that chemical protease inhibition can result in improved production of protease-sensitive secreted proteins even in mutant strains lacking eight extracellular proteases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Periplasmic Proteins / genetics
  • Periplasmic Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protease Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteomics / methods


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Periplasmic Proteins
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Proteome
  • Endopeptidases