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Improved fatty aldehyde and wax ester production by overexpression of fatty acyl-CoA reductases

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Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Background: Fatty aldehydes are industrially relevant compounds, which also represent a common metabolic intermediate in the microbial synthesis of various oleochemicals, including alkanes, fatty alcohols and wax esters. The key enzymes in biological fatty aldehyde production are the fatty acyl-CoA/ACP reductases (FARs) which reduce the activated acyl molecules to fatty aldehydes. Due to the disparity of FARs, identification and in vivo characterization of reductases with different properties are needed for the construction of tailored synthetic pathways for the production of various compounds. Results: Fatty aldehyde production in Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 was increased by the overexpression of three different FARs: a native A. baylyi FAR Acr1, a cyanobacterial Aar, and a putative, previously uncharacterized dehydrogenase (Ramo) from Nevskia ramosa. The fatty aldehyde production was followed in real-time inside the cells with a luminescence-based tool, and the highest aldehyde production was achieved with Aar. The fate of the overproduced fatty aldehydes was studied by measuring the production of wax esters by a native downstream pathway of A. baylyi, for which fatty aldehyde is a specific intermediate. The wax ester production was improved with the overexpression of Acr1 or Ramo compared to the wild type A. baylyi by more than two-fold, whereas the expression of Aar led to only subtle wax ester production. The overexpression of FARs did not affect the length of the acyl chains of the wax esters. Conclusions: The fatty aldehyde production, as well as the wax ester production of A. baylyi, was improved with the overexpression of a key enzyme in the pathway. The wax ester titer (0.45 g/l) achieved with the overexpression of Acr1 is the highest reported without hydrocarbon supplementation to the culture. The contrasting behavior of the different reductases highlight the significance of in vivo characterization of enzymes and emphasizes the possibilities provided by the diversity of FARs for pathway and product modulation.


  • Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1, FAR, Fatty acyl-CoA reductase, Fatty aldehyde, Wax ester

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