A balanced ATP driving force module for enhancing photosynthetic biosynthesis of 3-hydroxybutyrate from CO 2

Jason T. Ku, Ethan I. Lan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Using engineered photoautotrophic microorganisms for the direct chemical synthesis from CO 2 is an attractive direction for both sustainability and CO 2 mitigation. However, the behaviors of non-native metabolic pathways may be difficult to control due to the different intracellular contexts between natural and heterologous hosts. While most metabolic engineering efforts focus on strengthening driving forces in pathway design to favor biochemical production in these organisms, excessive driving force may be detrimental to product biosynthesis due to imbalanced cellular intermediate distribution. In this study, an ATP-hydrolysis based driving force module was engineered into cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 to produce 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB), a valuable chemical feedstock for the synthesis of biodegradable plastics and antibiotics. However, while the ATP driving force module is effective for increasing product formation, uncontrolled accumulation of intermediate metabolites likely led to metabolic imbalance and thus to cell growth inhibition. Therefore, the ATP driving force module was reengineered by providing a reversible outlet for excessive carbon flux. Upon expression of this balanced ATP driving force module with 3HB biosynthesis, engineered strain produced 3HB with a cumulative titer of 1.2 g/L, a significant increase over the initial strain. This result highlighted the importance of pathway reversibility as an effective design strategy for balancing driving force and intermediate accumulation, thereby achieving a self-regulated control for increased net flux towards product biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • 3-hydroxybutyric acid
  • Acetoacetyl-CoA synthase
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Driving force
  • Hydroxyalkanoate
  • Metabolic engineering

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