Publications

Abstract

Endowing biotechnological platform organisms with new carbon assimilation pathways is a key challenge for industrial biotechnology. Here we report progress toward the construction of formatotrophic Escherichia coli strains. Glycine and serine, universal precursors of one-carbon compounds oxidized during heterotrophic growth, are produced from formate and CO2 through a reductive route. An adaptive evolution strategy was applied to optimize the enzymatic steps of this route in appropriate selection strains. Metabolic labeling experiments with 13C-formate confirm the redirected carbon-flow. These results demonstrate the high plasticity of the central carbon metabolism of E. coli and the applicative potential of directed evolution for implementing synthetic pathways in microorganisms.

Abstract

Assimilation of one-carbon compounds presents a key biochemical challenge that limits their use as sustainable feedstocks for microbial growth and production. The reductive glycine pathway is a synthetic metabolic route that could provide an optimal way for the aerobic assimilation of reduced C1 compounds. Here, we show that a rational integration of native and foreign enzymes enables the tetrahydrofolate and glycine cleavage/synthase systems to operate in the reductive direction, such that Escherichia coli satisfies all of its glycine and serine requirements from the assimilation of formate and CO2. Importantly, the biosynthesis of serine from formate and CO2 does not lower the growth rate, indicating high flux that is able to provide 10% of cellular carbon. Our findings assert that the reductive glycine pathway could support highly efficient aerobic assimilation of C1-feedstocks.

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