Engineering β-oxidation in Yarrowia lipolytica for methyl ketone production

Erik K. R. Hanko, Charles M. Denby, Violeta Sànchez I Nogué, Weiyin Lin, Kelsey J. Ramirez, Christine A. Singer, Gregg T. Beckham, Jay D. Keasling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Medium- and long-chain methyl ketones are fatty acid-derived compounds that can be used as biofuel blending agents, flavors and fragrances. However, their large-scale production from sustainable feedstocks is currently limited due to the lack of robust microbial biocatalysts. The oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is a promising biorefinery platform strain for the production of methyl ketones from renewable lignocellulosic biomass due to its natively high flux towards fatty acid biosynthesis. In this study, we report the metabolic engineering of Y. lipolytica to produce long- and very long-chain methyl ketones. Truncation of peroxisomal β-oxidation by chromosomal deletion of pot1 resulted in the biosynthesis of saturated, mono-, and diunsaturated methyl ketones in the C13-C23 range. Additional overexpression and peroxisomal targeting of a heterologous bacterial methyl ketone biosynthesis pathway yielded an initial titer of 151.5mg/L of saturated methyl ketones. Dissolved oxygen concentrations in the cultures were found to substantially impact cell morphology and methyl ketone biosynthesis. Bioreactor cultivation under optimized conditions resulted in a titer of 314.8mg/L of total methyl ketones, representing more than a 6,000-fold increase over the parental strain. This work highlights the potential of Y. lipolytica to serve as chassis organism for the biosynthesis of acyl-thioester derived long- and very long-chain methyl ketones.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Pages (from-to)52-62
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Beta-oxidation
  • Fatty acid metabolism
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Methyl ketones
  • Peroxisome
  • Yarrowia lipolytica

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