Heterologous production of 6-deoxyerythronolide B in Escherichia coli through the wood werkman cycle

R. Axayacatl Gonzalez-Garcia, Lars K. Nielsen, Esteban Marcellin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Polyketides are a remarkable class of natural products with diverse functional and structural diversity. The class includes many medicinally important molecules with antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal and anticancer properties. Native bacterial, fungal and plant hosts are often difficult to cultivate and coax into producing the desired product. As a result, Escherichia coli has been used for the heterologous production of polyketides, with the production of 6-deoxyerythronolide B (6-dEB) being the first example. Current strategies for production in E. coli require feeding of exogenous propionate as a source for the precursors propionyl-CoA and S-methylmalonyl-CoA. Here, we show that heterologous polyketide production is possible from glucose as the sole carbon source. The heterologous expression of eight genes from the Wood-Werkman cycle found in Propionibacteria, in combination with expression of the 6-dEB synthases DEBS1, DEBS2 and DEBS3 resulted in 6-dEB formation from glucose as the sole carbon source. Our results show that the Wood-Werkman cycle provides the required propionyl-CoA and the extender unit S-methylmalonyl-CoA to produce up to 0.81 mg/L of 6-dEB in a chemically defined media.
Original languageEnglish
Article number228
Issue number6
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • 6-deoxyerythronolide B
  • Escherichia coli
  • Wood-Werkman cycle


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