Recombinant protein subunit vaccine synthesis in microbes: a role for yeast?

Roslyn M. Bill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Recombinant protein subunit vaccines are formulated using protein antigens that have been synthesized in heterologous host cells. Several host cells are available for this purpose, ranging from Escherichia coli to mammalian cell lines. This article highlights the benefits of using yeast as the recombinant host. Key findings The yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris, have been used to optimize the functional yields of potential antigens for the development of subunit vaccines against a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Saccharomyces cerevisiae has also been used in the manufacture of 11 approved vaccines against hepatitis B virus and one against human papillomavirus; in both cases, the recombinant protein forms highly immunogenic virus-like particles. Summary Advances in our understanding of how a yeast cell responds to the metabolic load of producing recombinant proteins will allow us to identify host strains that have improved yield properties and enable the synthesis of more challenging antigens that cannot be produced in other systems. Yeasts therefore have the potential to become important host organisms for the production of recombinant antigens that can be used in the manufacture of subunit vaccines or in new vaccine development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Issue number3
Early online date31 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Bill, RM 2015, 'Recombinant protein subunit vaccine synthesis in microbes: a role for yeast?' Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, vol 67, no. 3, pp. 319-328, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.


  • Pichia pastoris
  • recombinant antigen
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • yeast


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