Enhancing Light-Driven 1,3-Propanediol Production by Using Natural Compartmentalisation of Differentiated Cells

Synthetic biology emerges as a powerful approach for unlocking the potential of cyanobacteria to produce various chemicals. However, the highly oxidative intracellular environment of cyanobacteria is incompatible to numerous introduced enzymes from anaerobes. In this study, the authors explored a strategy based on natural compartmentalisation of cyanobacterial heterocysts to overcome the incompatibility. Hence, the oxygen-sensitive 1,3-propanediol (1,3-PDO) biosynthetic pathway was selected as a model and insulated in heterocysts to evaluate the proposed strategy. Thus, the genes from different sources for 1,3-PDO production were tandemly arrayed with promoter, resulting the assembled 1,3-PDO synthetic cassettes. Then the synthetic cassettes were integrated into the chromosome of Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120 by homologous recombination, respectively. The engineered strain P11 containing the genes from facultative anaerobe Klebsiella pneumoniae (cassette KP) accumulated 46.0 mg L-1 of 1,3-PDO when heterocysts were present, which is approximately 1.7-fold higher than that of no heterocysts. As for the strains (P12, P13, and P14) containing the genes from strictly anaerobic bacterium Clostridium butyricum (cassette CB), the product 1,3-PDO could only be detected when heterocysts were present. These results indicate that insulation of the oxygen-sensitive 1,3-PDO pathway with heterocysts is an effective way to protect these enzymes in cyanobacteria. The strategy may have the potential of serving as a universal strategy to overcome the incompatibility of oxygen-sensitivity in synthetic biology.

Authors: Liu H, Ni J, Xu P, Tao F. ; Full Source: ACS Synthetic Biology. 2018 Sep 20. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00239. [Epub ahead of print]