Engineering of bacterial methyl ketone synthesis for biofuels

Ee-Been Goh, Edward E K Baidoo, Jay D Keasling, Harry R Beller
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2012, 78 (1): 70-80
We have engineered Escherichia coli to overproduce saturated and monounsaturated aliphatic methyl ketones in the C₁₁ to C₁₅ (diesel) range; this group of methyl ketones includes 2-undecanone and 2-tridecanone, which are of importance to the flavor and fragrance industry and also have favorable cetane numbers (as we report here). We describe specific improvements that resulted in a 700-fold enhancement in methyl ketone titer relative to that of a fatty acid-overproducing E. coli strain, including the following: (i) overproduction of β-ketoacyl coenzyme A (CoA) thioesters achieved by modification of the β-oxidation pathway (specifically, overexpression of a heterologous acyl-CoA oxidase and native FadB and chromosomal deletion of fadA) and (ii) overexpression of a native thioesterase (FadM). FadM was previously associated with oleic acid degradation, not methyl ketone synthesis, but outperformed a recently identified methyl ketone synthase (Solanum habrochaites MKS2 [ShMKS2], a thioesterase from wild tomato) in β-ketoacyl-CoA-overproducing strains tested. Whole-genome transcriptional (microarray) studies led to the discovery that FadM is a valuable catalyst for enhancing methyl ketone production. The use of a two-phase system with decane enhanced methyl ketone production by 4- to 7-fold in addition to increases from genetic modifications.


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