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Dynamic decoupling of biomass and wax ester biosynthesis in Acinetobacter baylyi by an autonomously regulated switch

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00078
JournalMetabolic Engineering Communications
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


For improving the microbial production of fuels and chemicals, gene knock-outs and overexpression are routinely applied to intensify the carbon flow from substrate to product. However, their possibilities in dynamic control of the flux between the biomass and product synthesis are limited, whereas dynamic metabolic switches can be used for optimizing the distribution of carbon and resources. The production of single cell oils is especially challenging, as the synthesis is strictly regulated, competes directly with biomass, and requires defined conditions, such as nitrogen limitation. Here, we engineered a metabolic switch for redirecting carbon flow from biomass to wax ester production in Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 using acetate as a carbon source. Isocitrate lyase, an essential enzyme for growth on acetate, was expressed under an arabinose inducible promoter. The autonomous downregulation of the expression is based on the gradual oxidation of the arabinose inducer by a glucose dehydrogenase gcd. The depletion of the inducer, occurring simultaneously to acetate consumption, switches the cells from a biomass mode to a lipid synthesis mode, enabling the efficient channelling of carbon to wax esters in a simple batch culture. In the engineered strain, the yield and titer of wax esters were improved by 3.8 and 3.1 folds, respectively, over the control strain. In addition, the engineered strain accumulated wax esters 19% of cell dry weight, being the highest reported among microbes. The study provides important insights into the dynamic engineering of the biomass-dependent synthesis pathways for the improved production of biocompounds from low-cost and sustainable substrates.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Acetate, Autonomous circuit, Decoupling, Dynamic control, Lipid biosynthesis, Wax esters

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