Strain- and bioprocess-design strategies to increase production of (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate by Escherichia coli

Sammanfattning: Microbial bio-based processes have emerged as an alternative to replace fossil-based processes for the production of fuels and chemicals. (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) is a medium-value chemical that has gained special attention as a precursor of antibiotics and vitamins, as a monomer for the synthesis of tailor-made polyesters and as a nutritional source for eukaryotic cells. By integrating strain and bioprocess-design strategies the work of this thesis has aimed to improve microbial 3HB production by the well-studied platform organism Escherichia coli (strain AF1000) expressing a thiolase and a reductase from Halomonas boliviensis.Uncoupling growth and product formation by NH4+- or PO43-- limited fed-batch cultivations allowed for 3HB titers of 4.1 and 6.8 g L-1 (Paper I). Increasing the NADPH supply by overexpression of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (zwf) resulted in 1.7 times higher 3HB yield compared to not overexpressing zwf in NH4+ depleted conditions (Paper II). To increase 3HB production in high-cell density cultures, strain BL21 was selected as a low acetate-forming, 3HB-producing platform. BL21 grown in NH4+ limited fed-batch cultivations resulted in 2.3 times higher 3HB titer (16.3 g L-1) compared to strain AF1000 (Paper III). Overexpression of the native E. coli thioesterase “yciA”, identified as the largest contributor in 3HB-CoA hydrolysis, resulted in 2.6 times higher 3HB yield compared to AF1000 not overexpressing yciA. Overexpressing zwf and yciA in NH4+ depleted fed-batch experiments resulted in 2 times higher total 3HB yield (0.210 g g-1) compared to AF1000 only overexpressing zwf (Paper IV). Additionally, using 3HB as a model product, the bacterial artificial chromosome was presented as a simple platform for performing pathway design and optimization in E. coli (Paper V). While directly relevant for 3HB production, these findings also contribute to the knowledge on how to improve the production of a chemical for the development of robust and scalable processes.