(S)-Styrene oxide and (R)-1,2-phenylethanediol are chiral aromatic molecular building blocks used commonly as precursors to pharmaceuticals and other specialty chemicals. Two pathways have been engineered in Escherichia coli for their individual biosynthesis directly from glucose. The novel pathways each constitute extensions of the previously engineered styrene pathway, developed by co-expressing either styrene monooxygenase (SMO) or styrene dioxygenase (SDO) to convert styrene to (S)-styrene oxide and (R)-1,2-phenylethanediol, respectively. StyAB from Pseudomonas putida S12 was determined to be the most effective SMO. SDO activity was achieved using NahAaAbAcAd of Pseudomonas sp. NCIB 9816-4, a naphthalene dioxygenase with known broad substrate specificity. Production of phenylalanine, the precursor to both pathways, was systematically enhanced through a number of mutations, most notably via deletion of tyrA and over-expression of tktA. As a result, (R)-1,2-phenylethanediol reached titers as high as 1.23 g/L, and at 1.32 g/L (S)-styrene oxide titers already approach their toxicity limit. As with other aromatics, product toxicity was strongly correlated with a model of membrane accumulation and disruption. This study additionally demonstrates that greater flux through the styrene pathway can be achieved if its toxicity is addressed, as achieved in this case by reacting styrene to less toxic products.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Molecular Medicine