The synthesis of cyanophycin, a biodegradable polymer, is directed by cyanophycin synthetase. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cloned the gene cphA coding for cyanophycin synthetase from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 into pET-21b followed by transformation into two Escherichia coli hosts. The culture conditions for cyanophycin production were investigated, and the molecular weight and compositions of purified cyanophycin were analyzed. The results showed that E. coli BL21-CodonPlus(DE3)-RIL could produce 120 mg cyanophycin per gram dry cell weight in terrific medium. The purified cyanophycin consisted of insoluble and soluble forms at pH 7. The insoluble form had a higher molecular weight (20–32 kDa) than the soluble form (14–25 kDa). Both forms are composed of three major amino acids, aspartic acid, arginine, and lysine, and the insoluble form showed a higher arginine/lysine molar ratio (4.61 ± 0.31) than the soluble form (0.89 ± 0.05). In addition, the nitrogen sources could affect the yields of insoluble and soluble forms of cyanophycin. The medium containing additional lysine could enhance the proportion of the soluble form, but had little effect on the lysine and arginine percentages of both soluble and insoluble forms. The medium containing additional arginine slightly decreased the proportion of soluble form and altered its amino acid composition, with a minimal effect on the lysine and arginine percentages in the insoluble form. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2012
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