Engineering of synthetic, stress-responsive yeast promoters

Arun Stephen Rajkumar, Guodong Liu, David Bergenholm, Dushica Arsovska, Mette Kristensen, Jens Nielsen, Michael Krogh Jensen, Jay Keasling

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Advances in synthetic biology and our understanding of the rules of promoter architecture have led to the development of diverse synthetic constitutive and inducible promoters in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. However, the design of promoters inducibleby specific endogenous or environmental conditions is still rarely undertaken. In this study, we engineered and characterized a set of strong, synthetic promoters for budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are inducible under acidic conditions (pH≤ 3). Using available expression and transcription factor binding data, literature on transcriptional regulation,and known rules of promoter architecture we improved the low-pH performance of the YGP1 promoter by modifying transcription factor binding sites in its upstream activation sequence. The engineering strategy outlined for the YGP1 promoter was subsequently applied to create a response to low pH in the unrelated CCW14 promoter. We applied our best promoter variants to low-pH fermentations, enabling tenfold increased production of lactic acid compared totitres obtained with the commonly used, native TEF1promoter. Our findings outline and validate a general strategy to iteratively design and engineer synthetic yeast promoters inducible to environmental conditions or stresses of interest.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere136
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number17
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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