A Pichia pastoris expression system has for the first time been successfully developed to produce rhEPO (recombinant human eosinophil peroxidase). The full-length rhEPO coding sequence was cloned into the pPIC9 vector in frame with the yeast α-Factor secretion signal under the transcriptional control of the AOX (acyl-CoA oxidase) promoter, and transformed into P. pastoris strain GS115. Evidence for the production of rhEPO by P. pastoris as a glycosylated dimer precursor of approx. 80 kDa was determined by SDS/PAGE and gel filtration chromatography. Recombinant hEPO undergoes proteolytic processing, similar to that in the native host, to generate two chains of approx. 50 and 20 kDa. A preliminary biochemical characterization of purified rhEPO demonstrated that the spectral and kinetic properties of the recombinant wild-type EPO are comparable with those of the native enzyme and are accompanied by oxidizing activity towards several physiological anionic substrates such as SCN, Br and Cl. On the basis of the estimated Km and kcat values it is evident that the pseudohalide SCN is the most specific substrate for rhEPO, consistent with the catalytic properties of other mammalian EPOs purified from blood.

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