Harnessing the respiration machinery for high-yield production of chemicals in metabolically engineered Lactococcus lactis

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When modifying the metabolism of living organisms with the aim of achieving biosynthesis of useful compounds, it is essential to ensure that it is possible to achieve overall redox balance. We propose a generalized strategy for this, based on fine-tuning of respiration. The strategy was applied on metabolically engineered Lactococcus lactis strains to optimize the production of acetoin and (R,R)−2,3-butanediol (R-BDO). In the absence of an external electron acceptor, a surplus of two NADH per acetoin molecule is produced. We found that a fully activated respiration was able to efficiently regenerate NAD+, and a high titer of 371 mM (32 g/L) of acetoin was obtained with a yield of 82% of the theoretical maximum. Subsequently, we extended the metabolic pathway from acetoin to R-BDO by introducing the butanediol dehydrogenase gene from Bacillus subtilis. Since one mole of NADH is consumed when acetoin is converted into R-BDO per mole, only the excess of NADH needs to be oxidized via respiration. Either by fine-tuning the respiration capacity or by using a dual-phase fermentation approach involving a switch from fully respiratory to non-respiratory conditions, we obtained 361 mM (32 g/L) R-BDO with a yield of 81% or 365 mM (33 g/L) with a yield of 82%, respectively. These results demonstrate the great potential in using finely-tuned respiration machineries for bio-production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Pages (from-to)22-29
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Respiration capacity
  • Hemin
  • Lactococcus lactis
  • Acetoin
  • (R,R)-2,3-butanediol

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