Background: Trichoderma reesei is one of the best-known cellulolytic organisms, producing large quantities of a complete set of extracellular cellulases and hemicellulases for the degradation of lignocellulosic substances. Hence, T. reesei is a biotechnically important host and it is used commercially in enzyme production, of both native and foreign origin. Many strategies for producing enzymes in T. reesei rely on the cbh1 and other cellulase gene promoters for high-level expression and these promoters require induction by sophorose, lactose or other inducers for high productivity during manufacturing. Results: We described an approach for producing high levels of secreted proteins by overexpression of a transcription factor ACE3 in T. reesei. We refined the ace3 gene structure and identified specific ACE3 variants that enable production of secreted cellulases and hemicellulases on glucose as a sole carbon source (i.e., in the absence of an inducer). These specific ACE3 variants contain a full-length Zn2Cys6 binuclear cluster domain at the N-terminus and a defined length of truncations at the C-terminus. When expressed at a moderate level in the fungal cells, the ACE3 variants can induce high-level expression of cellulases and hemicellulases on glucose (i.e., in the absence of an inducer), and further improve expression on lactose or glucose/sophorose (i.e., in the presence of an inducer). Finally, we demonstrated that this method is applicable to industrial strains and fermentation conditions, improving protein production both in the absence and in the presence of an inducer. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that overexpression of ACE3 variants enables a high level of protein production in the absence of an inducer, and boosts protein production in the presence of an inducer. It is an efficient approach to increase protein productivity and to reduce manufacturing costs.
- ACE3 transcription factor
- Trichoderma reesei