Effective enhancement of short-chain-length-medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoate copolymer production by coexpression of genetically engineered 3-ketoacyl-acyl-carrier-protein synthase III (fabH) and polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis genes

Christopher T Nomura, Tomoyo Tanaka, Zhihua Gan, Kazuhiro Kuwabara, Hideki Abe, Kazuma Takase, Kazunori Taguchi, Yoshiharu Doi
Biomacromolecules 2004, 5 (4): 1457-64
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable polyesters that have a wide variety of physical properties dependent on the lengths of the pendant groups of the monomer units in the polymer. PHAs composed of mostly short-chain-length (SCL) monomers are often stiff and brittle, whereas PHAs composed of mostly medium-chain-length (MCL) monomers are elastomeric in nature. SCL-MCL PHA copolymers can have properties between the two states, dependent on the ratio of SCL and MCL monomers in the copolymer. It is desirable to elucidate new and low cost ways to produce PHA composed of mostly SCL monomer units with a small mol % of MCL monomers from renewable resources, since this type of SCL-MCL PHA copolymer has superior qualities compared to SCL homopolymer. To address this issue, we have created strains of recombinant E. coli capable of producing beta-ketothiolase (PhbA) and acetoacetyl-CoA synthase (PhbB) from Ralstonia eutropha, genetically engineered 3-ketoacyl-ACP synthase III (FabH) from Escherichia coli, and genetically engineered PHA synthases (PhaC) from Pseudomonas sp. 61-3 to enhance the production of SCL-MCL PHA copolymers from glucose. The cumulative effect of having two monomer-supplying pathways and genetically engineered PHA synthases resulted in higher accumulated amounts of SCL-MCL PHA copolymer from glucose. Polymers were isolated from two recombinant E. coli strains, the first harboring the phbAB, fabH(F87T), and phaC1(SCQM) genes and the second harboring the phbAB, fabH(F87W), and phaC1(SCQM) genes. The thermal and physical properties of the isolated polymers were characterized. It was found that even a very low mol % of MCL monomer in a SCL-MCL PHA copolymer had dramatic effects on the thermal properties of the copolymers.

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