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Zhang, X, Shanmugam, KT and Ingram, LO (2010) Fermentation of glycerol to succinate by metabolically engineered strains of Escherichia coli. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76:2397-401


The fermentative metabolism of Escherichia coli was reengineered to efficiently convert glycerol to succinate under anaerobic conditions without the use of foreign genes. Formate and ethanol were the dominant fermentation products from glycerol in wild-type Escherichia coli ATCC 8739, followed by succinate and acetate. Inactivation of pyruvate formate-lyase (pflB) in the wild-type strain eliminated the production of formate and ethanol and reduced the production of acetate. However, this deletion slowed growth and decreased cell yields due to either insufficient energy production or insufficient levels of electron acceptors. Reversing the direction of the gluconeogenic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase reaction offered an approach to solve both problems, conserving energy as an additional ATP and increasing the pool of electron acceptors (fumarate and malate). Recruiting this enzyme through a promoter mutation (pck*) to increase expression also increased the rate of growth, cell yield, and succinate production. Presumably, the high NADH/NAD(+) ratio served to establish the direction of carbon flow. Additional mutations were also beneficial. Glycerol dehydrogenase and the phosphotransferase-dependent dihydroxyacetone kinase are regarded as the primary route for glycerol metabolism under anaerobic conditions. However, this is not true for succinate production by engineered strains. Deletion of the ptsI gene or any other gene essential for the phosphotranferase system was found to increase succinate yield. Deletion of pflB in this background provided a further increase in the succinate yield. Together, these three core mutations (pck*, ptsI, and pflB) effectively redirected carbon flow from glycerol to succinate at 80% of the maximum theoretical yield during anaerobic fermentation in mineral salts medium.


PubMed PMC2849195 Online version:10.1128/AEM.02902-09


Acetates/metabolism; Anaerobiosis; Escherichia coli/genetics; Escherichia coli/growth & development; Escherichia coli/metabolism; Escherichia coli Proteins/genetics; Escherichia coli Proteins/metabolism; Ethanol/metabolism; Fermentation; Formates/metabolism; Fumarates/metabolism; Gene Deletion; Gene Expression; Genetic Engineering; Glycerol/metabolism; Malates/metabolism; Metabolic Networks and Pathways/genetics; Promoter Regions, Genetic; Succinic Acid/metabolism


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