Combining Random Mutagenesis and Metabolic Engineering for Enhanced Tryptophan Production in Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC 6803

May 07, 2020 | Biotechnology

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Tryptophan (Trp) is an essential aromatic amino acid that has value as an animal feed supplement, as the amount found in plant-based sources is insufficient. An alternative to production by engineered microbial fermentation is to have tryptophan biosynthesized by a photosynthetic microorganism that could replace or supplement both the plant and industrially used microbes. We selected Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803, a model cyanobacterium, as the host and studied metabolic engineering and random mutagenesis approaches. Previous work on engineering heterotrophic microbes for improved Trp titers has targeted allosteric feedback regulation in enzymes 3-deoxy--arabinoheptulosonate 7-phosphate synthase (DAHPS) and anthranilate synthase (AS) as major bottlenecks in the shikimate pathway. In this work, the genes encoding feedback-resistant enzymes from Escherichia coli, aroGfbr and trpEfbr, were overexpressed in the host wild-type (WT) strain. Separately, the WT strain was subjected to random mutagenesis and selection using an amino acid analog to isolate tryptophan-overproducing strains. The randomly mutagenized strains were sequenced in order to identify the mutations that resulted in the desirable phenotypes. Interestingly, the tryptophan overproducers had mutations in the gene encoding chorismate mutase (CM), which catalyzes the conversion of chorismate to prephenate. The best tryptophan overproducer from random mutagenesis was selected as a host for metabolic engineering where aroGfbr and trpEfbr were overexpressed. The best strain developed produced 212 ± 23 mg/liter of tryptophan after 10 days of photoautotrophic growth under 3% (vol/vol) CO2. We demonstrated that a combination of random mutagenesis and metabolic engineering was superior to either individual approach.

IMPORTANCE Aromatic amino acids such as tryptophan are primarily used as additives in... Want to read more? Visit the Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM)​ Blog.

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