Gene function is typically evaluated by sampling the continuum of gene expression at only a few discrete points corresponding to gene knockout or overexpression. We argue that this characterization is incomplete and present a library of engineered promoters of varying strengths obtained through mutagenesis of a constitutive promoter. A multifaceted characterization of the library, especially at the single-cell level to ensure homogeneity, permitted quantitative assessment correlating the effect of gene expression levels to improved growth and product formation phenotypes in
. Integration of these promoters into the chromosome can allow for a quantitative accurate assessment of genetic control. To this end, we used the characterized library of promoters to assess the impact of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase levels on growth yield and deoxy-xylulose-P synthase levels on lycopene production. The multifaceted characterization of promoter strength enabled identification of optimal expression levels for
, which maximized the desired phenotype. Additionally, in a strain preengineered to produce lycopene, the response to deoxy-xylulose-P synthase levels was linear at all levels tested, indicative of a rate-limiting step, unlike the parental strain, which exhibited an optimum expression level, illustrating that optimal gene expression levels are variable and dependent on the genetic background of the strain. This promoter library concept is illustrated as being generalizable to eukaryotic organisms (
) and thus constitutes an integral platform for functional genomics, synthetic biology, and metabolic engineering endeavors.
Global transcription machinery engineering (gTME) is an approach for reprogramming gene transcription to elicit cellular phenotypes important for technological applications. Here we show the application of gTME to Saccharomyces cerevisiae for improved glucose/ethanol tolerance, a key trait for many biofuels programs. Mutagenesis of the transcription factor Spt15p and selection led to dominant mutations that conferred increased tolerance and more efficient glucose conversion to ethanol. The desired phenotype results from the combined effect of three separate mutations in the SPT15 gene [serine substituted for phenylalanine (Phe(177)Ser) and, similarly, Tyr(195)His, and Lys(218)Arg]. Thus, gTME can provide a route to complex phenotypes that are not readily accessible by traditional methods.
Economic feasibility of biosynthetic fuel and chemical production hinges upon harnessing metabolism to achieve high titre and yield. Here we report a thorough genotypic and phenotypic optimization of an oleaginous organism to create a strain with significant lipogenesis capability. Specifically, we rewire Yarrowia lipolytica's native metabolism for superior de novo lipogenesis by coupling combinatorial multiplexing of lipogenesis targets with phenotypic induction. We further complete direct conversion of lipid content into biodiesel. Tri-level metabolic control results in saturated cells containing upwards of 90% lipid content and titres exceeding 25 g l À 1 lipids, which represents a 60-fold improvement over parental strain and conditions. Through this rewiring effort, we advance fundamental understanding of lipogenesis, demonstrate non-canonical environmental and intracellular stimuli and uncouple lipogenesis from nitrogen starvation. The high titres and carbon-source independent nature of this lipogenesis in Y. lipolytica highlight the potential of this organism as a platform for efficient oleochemical production.
Identification of genes that affect the product accumulation phenotype of recombinant strains is an important problem in industrial strain construction and a central tenet of metabolic engineering. We have used systematic (model-based) and combinatorial (transposon-based) methods to identify gene knockout targets that increase lycopene biosynthesis in strains of Escherichia coli. We show that these two search strategies yield two distinct gene sets, which affect product synthesis either through an increase in precursor availability or through (largely unknown) kinetic or regulatory mechanisms, respectively. Exhaustive exploration of all possible combinations of the above gene sets yielded a unique set of 64 knockout strains spanning the metabolic landscape of systematic and combinatorial gene knockout targets. This included a global maximum strain exhibiting an 8.5-fold product increase over recombinant K12 wild type and a twofold increase over the engineered parental strain. These results were further validated in controlled culture conditions.
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