N-STePP™—NAGASE’s Streptomyces Technology for Precious Products

We dedicate ourselves to the technology development using Streptomyces strains as host cells for producing chemicals and ingredients.

What is N-STePP™

We at NAGASE, together with our affiliate daughter company, Nagase ChemteX Corporation, initiated a project to develop proprietary technology using the Streptomyces bacterial strains as host cells to produce enzymes, chemicals, and ingredients approximately 10 years ago. N-STePP™ is the abbreviation for NAGASE’s Streptomyces Technology for Precious Products and is our registered trademark in Japan. N-STePP™ made over-expression of enzymes from Streptomyces possible, resulting in multiple enzyme product launches. At Nagase Bio-Innovation Center, this technology is further expanded for efficient production of biochemical compounds.

Characteristics of N-STePP™

Streptomyces is classified in the order of Streptomycetales. Although it is a prokaryotic bacterium, its morphology resembles that of filamentous fungus (Figure 1). Streptomyces is well known to produce antibiotics, as well as other bioactive compounds. A typical example is streptomycin, the first drug for curing tuberculosis found in 1943. Another example is a famous anti-parasite drug, ivermectin—the modified form of avermectin, discovered by the Nobel prize winner Prof. Omura at Kitasato University. As a matter of fact, new substances from Streptomyces are continuously discovered even now, proving the microbe to be a treasure trove in terms of material production.

Streptomyces as hosts for material production

Compared to E. coli and yeast, the two renowned hosts for material production, knowledge about Streptomyces is still in short supply, both physiologically and genetically. Because of the difficulties of genetic engineering and a long fermentation period needed for Streptomyces, applications using the microbe for material production have been limited in precious antibiotic production. However, Streptomyces continues to produce materials long after (>2 months) cell proliferation. This characteristic of Streptomyces could be turned into an advantage. We, at the Nagase Bio-Innovation Center, are overcoming Streptomyces’ demerits and developing it into a new biotechnological platform for material production at industrial scales.

Figure 1 Streptomyces violaceoruber (SEM image was taken by Dr. Hideki Yamamura, University of Yamanashi, Japan)

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