Engineering the monomer composition of polyhydroxyalkanoates synthesized in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Bo Zhang, Ross Carlson, Friedrich Srienc
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2006, 72 (1): 536-43
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) have received considerable interest as renewable-resource-based, biodegradable, and biocompatible plastics with a wide range of potential applications. We have engineered the synthesis of PHA polymers composed of monomers ranging from 4 to 14 carbon atoms in either the cytosol or the peroxisome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae by harnessing intermediates of fatty acid metabolism. Cytosolic PHA production was supported by establishing in the cytosol critical beta-oxidation chemistries which are found natively in peroxisomes. This platform was utilized to supply medium-chain (C6 to C14) PHA precursors from both fatty acid degradation and synthesis to a cytosolically expressed medium-chain-length (mcl) polymerase from Pseudomonas oleovorans. Synthesis of short-chain-length PHAs (scl-PHAs) was established in the peroxisome of a wild-type yeast strain by targeting the Ralstonia eutropha scl polymerase to the peroxisome. This strain, harboring a peroxisomally targeted scl-PHA synthase, accumulated PHA up to approximately 7% of its cell dry weight. These results indicate (i) that S. cerevisiae expressing a cytosolic mcl-PHA polymerase or a peroxisomal scl-PHA synthase can use the 3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme A intermediates from fatty acid metabolism to synthesize PHAs and (ii) that fatty acid degradation is also possible in the cytosol as beta-oxidation might not be confined only to the peroxisomes. Polymers of even-numbered, odd-numbered, or a combination of even- and odd-numbered monomers can be controlled by feeding the appropriate substrates. This ability should permit the rational design and synthesis of polymers with desired material properties.

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