Engineering energetically efficient transport of dicarboxylic acids in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Behrooz Darbani, Vratislav Stovicek, Steven Axel Van Der Hoek, Irina Borodina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Biobased C4-dicarboxylic acids are attractive sustainable precursors for polymers and other materials. Commercial scale production of these acids at high titers requires efficient secretion by cell factories. In this study, we characterized 7 dicarboxylic acid transporters in Xenopus oocytes and in Saccharomyces cerevisiae engineered for dicarboxylic acid production. Among the tested transporters, the Mae1(p) from Schizosaccharomyces pombe had the highest activity toward succinic, malic, and fumaric acids and resulted in 3-, 8-, and 5-fold titer increases, respectively, in S. cerevisiae, while not affecting growth, which was in contrast to the tested transporters from the tellurite-resistance/dicarboxylate transporter (TDT) family or the Na+ coupled divalent anion-sodium symporter family. Similar to SpMae1(p), its homolog in Aspergillus carbonarius, AcDct(p), increased the malate titer 12-fold without affecting the growth. Phylogenetic and protein motif analyses mapped SpMae1(p) and AcDct(p) into the voltage-dependent slow-anion channel transporter (SLAC1) clade of transporters, which also include plant Slac1(p) transporters involved in stomata closure. The conserved phenylalanine residue F329 closing the transport pore of SpMae1(p) is essential for the transporter activity. The voltage-dependent SLAC1 transporters do not use proton or Na+ motive force and are, thus, less energetically expensive than the majority of other dicarboxylic acid transporters. Such transporters present a tremendous advantage for organic acid production via fermentation allowing a higher overall product yield.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Pages (from-to)19415-19420
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cell factories
  • Dicarboxylic acids
  • Efflux transporters
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe MAE1
  • SLAC1

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