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Construction of a novel phenol synthetic pathway in Escherichia coli through 4-hydroxybenzoate decarboxylation.

Applied microbiology and biotechnology (2015-03-12)
Liangtian Miao, Qingyan Li, Aipo Diao, Xueli Zhang, Yanhe Ma
ABSTRACT

Phenol is a bulk chemical with lots of applications in the chemical industry. Fermentative production of phenol had been realized in both Pseudomonas putida and Escherichia coli by recruiting tyrosine phenol-lyase (TPL). The TPL pathway needs tyrosine as the direct precursor for phenol production. In this work, a novel phenol synthetic pathway was created in E. coli by recruiting 4-hydroxybenzoate decarboxylase, which can convert 4-hydroxybenzoate to phenol and carbon dioxide. Activating 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate-7-phosphate (DAHP) synthase and chorismate pyruvate lyase (UbiC) through plasmid overexpression led to 7- and 69-fold increase of phenol production, respectively, demonstrating that these two enzymes were the rate-limiting steps for phenol production. Genetically stable strains were then obtained by gene integration and gene modulation directly in chromosome. Phenol titer increased 147-fold (from 1.7 to 250 mg/L) after modulating the DAHP synthase, UbiC, and 4-hydroxybenzoate decarboxylase genes in chromosome. Five solvents were tested for two-phase extractive fermentation to eliminate phenol toxicity to E. coli cells. Tributyrin and dibutyl phthalate were the best two solvents for improving phenol production, leading to 23 and 30 % increase of total phenol production, respectively. Two-phase fed-batch fermentation of the best strain Phe009 was performed in a 7 L fermentor, which produced 9.51 g/L phenol with a yield of 0.061 g/g glucose.

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