Streptococcus thermophilus, an emerging and promising tool for heterologous expression: Advantages and future trends

Food Microbiol. 2016 Feb;53(Pt A):2-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 May 19.


Streptococcus thermophilus is the second most used bacterium in dairy industry. It is daily consumed by millions of people through the worldwide consumption of yogurts, cheeses and fermented milks. S. thermophilus presents many features that make it a good candidate for the production of heterologous proteins. First, its ability to be naturally transformable allows obtaining swiftly and easily recombinant strains using various genetic tools available. Second, its Generally Recognised As Safe status and its ability to produce beneficial molecules or to liberate bioactive peptides from milk proteins open up the way for the development of new functional foods to maintain health and well-being of consumers. Finally, its ability to survive the intestinal passage and to be metabolically active in gastrointestinal tract allows considering S. thermophilus as a potential tool for delivering various biological molecules to the gastrointestinal tract. The aim of this review is therefore to take stock of various genetic tools which can be employed in S. thermophilus to produce heterologous proteins and to highlight the advantages and future trends of use of this bacterium as a heterologous expression host.

Keywords: Food-grade; Genetic tools; Heterologous expression; Natural competence; Streptococcus thermophilus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transformation Competence
  • Fermentation
  • Food Microbiology / methods*
  • Food Microbiology / trends
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Milk / microbiology
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Streptococcus thermophilus / genetics*
  • Streptococcus thermophilus / metabolism
  • Yogurt / microbiology


  • Recombinant Proteins