Research News

Yeast is Harnessed for Biosynthesis of Long-Chain α-Alkene

Posted: 2018-03-07

Recently, Professor ZHOU Yongjin from Synthetic Biology for Biocatalysis Lab in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Professor Jens Nielsen from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, successfully constructed a yeast cell factory for bio-production of long-chain α-alkene. This new result was published in ACS Synthetic Biology, a prestigious journal in the field of synthetic biology.

Yeast was harnessed as a cell factory for biosynthesis of long chain α-alkenes. (Image by MA Xiaojing)

Long-chain α- alkene (C12-C20) is widely used as biofuels, plasticizers, poly-α-olefin (PAO), detergents and fragrances. It is currently mainly manufactured from fossil resources through the paraffin cracking, alkane dehydrogenation, ethylene oligomerization or other chemical processes.

To establish the sustainable production of α-alkene, researchers tried the engineering of budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as the host for biosynthesis of α-alkene by decarboxylation of fatty acids. UndB derived from Pseudomonas fluorescens was found to be the most efficient decarboxylation enzyme.

Subsequently, α-alkene production was further improved by rewiring fatty acid metabolism for precursor supply, introducing an electron transfer system to increase the decarboxylation efficiency and expressing a transporter to improve product secretion.

Finally, metabolic dynamic regulation enabled the relieving the metabolic burden by balancing cell growth and product synthesis. With these endeavors, α- alkene production was improved 10-fold (35.3 mg/L, >80% was secreted), which was the highest titer among the present eukaryotic cell factories to date. (Text by MA Xiaojing)