Escherichia [corrected] coli ribose binding protein based bioreporters revisited

Sci Rep. 2014 Jul 9:4:5626. doi: 10.1038/srep05626.


Bioreporter bacteria, i.e., strains engineered to respond to chemical exposure by production of reporter proteins, have attracted wide interest because of their potential to offer cheap and simple alternative analytics for specified compounds or conditions. Bioreporter construction has mostly exploited the natural variation of sensory proteins, but it has been proposed that computational design of new substrate binding properties could lead to completely novel detection specificities at very low affinities. Here we reconstruct a bioreporter system based on the native Escherichia coli ribose binding protein RbsB and one of its computationally designed variants, reported to be capable of binding 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). Our results show in vivo reporter induction at 50 nM ribose, and a 125 nM affinity constant for in vitro ribose binding to RbsB. In contrast, the purified published TNT-binding variant did not bind TNT nor did TNT cause induction of the E. coli reporter system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Periplasmic Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ribose / metabolism*
  • Trinitrotoluene / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Periplasmic Binding Proteins
  • RbsB protein, E coli
  • Trinitrotoluene
  • Ribose