Open Access Research article

A vaccine grade of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing mammalian myostatin

Tingting Zhang, Lin Sun, Ying Xin, Lixia Ma, Youyou Zhang, Xin Wang, Kun Xu, Chonghua Ren, Cunfang Zhang, Zhilong Chen, Hanjiang Yang and Zhiying Zhang*

Author Affiliations

College of Animal Science & Technology, Shaan'xi Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Agriculture, Northwest A&F University, YangLing, Shaan'xi, 712100, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Biotechnology 2012, 12:97  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-12-97

Published: 19 December 2012



Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a widely-used system for protein expression. We previously showed that heat-killed whole recombinant yeast vaccine expressing mammalian myostatin can modulate myostatin function in mice, resulting in increase of body weight and muscle composition in these animals. Foreign DNA introduced into yeast cells can be lost soon unless cells are continuously cultured in selection media, which usually contain antibiotics. For cost and safety concerns, it is essential to optimize conditions to produce quality food and pharmaceutical products.


We developed a simple but effective method to engineer a yeast strain stably expressing mammalian myostatin. This method utilized high-copy-number integration of myostatin gene into the ribosomal DNA of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the final step, antibiotic selection marker was removed using the Cre-LoxP system to minimize any possible side-effects for animals. The resulting yeast strain can be maintained in rich culture media and stably express mammalian myostatin for two years. Oral administration of the recombinant yeast was able to induce immune response to myostatin and modulated the body weight of mice.


Establishment of such yeast strain is a step further toward transformation of yeast cells into edible vaccine to improve meat production in farm animals and treat human muscle-wasting diseases in the future.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Vaccine; Myostatin; Chromosomal integration