Design of a new biological platform for the production of glycoglycerolipids


Orive Milla, Núria  


Glycolipids are products of high-added value due to their amphipathic properties, which endow them with a broad range of applications in the chemical (i.e., biosurfactants) and biomedical sectors (i.e., vaccine adjuvants). Depending on their lipidic moiety, glycolipids are classified in different families. If the lipid moiety is a ceramide or diacylglycerol, the glycolipids are known as glycosphingolipids or glycoglycerolipids respectively. While glycosphingolipids have shown to play essential roles in many biological processes, glycoglycerolipids (GGL) are interesting compounds due to their potential use as vaccine adjuvants or tumor suppressors. Although the interest of these compounds is very high, their applications are hampered by their low availability and high productions costs. Chemical synthesis requires complex protection and deprotection steps to achieve the desired regio- and stereospecificity of the glycosidic linkage, which consequently lower the yield and efficiency of the process. Therefore, we considered metabolic engineering as a potential strategy for the production of glycolipids and we aimed at building up a metabolic engineering platform in E. coli to achieve these complex structures of interest. In previous studies, our group reported that the glycolipid synthase MG517 from Mycoplasma genitalium was functional and glycoglycerolipids were obtained from UDP-glucose (UDP-Glc) and diacylglycerol (DAG). In addition, the first generation of engineered strains demonstrated that the availability of the DAG was the key bottleneck in GGL production (Mora-Buyé et al., 2012). In the present project, five different metabolic strategies were proposed to increase the production of GGL using E. coli. The first four strategies were aimed at increasing the available pool of the lipidic precursor, DAG. Thus, the first strategy was based on increasing DAG availability by removing competing reactions. To achieve so, different genes involved in the ß-oxidation and activation of fatty acids were knocked out (ΔtesA y ΔfadE) reporting an almost 2-fold production increase. The second strategy was based on increasing fatty acids availability by modulating different transcriptional factors (fabR y fadR). Although this strategy did not report an improvement of GGL yield, showed a change in the fatty acid profile with an increase of unsaturated fatty acids. The third strategy was based on increasing the conversion of acyl donors to phosphatidic acid, precursor of DAG, by overexpressing PlsC and PlsB acyltransferases. The fourth strategy was based on increasing diacylglycerol availability by overexpressing the fusion PlsCxPgpB protein that could redirect the flux to DAG or CDH promoting the hydrolysis of phospholipids. Among the different engineered strains, the ∆tesA strain co-expressing MG517 and a fusion PlsCxPgpB protein was the best producer, with a 350% increase of GGL titer compared to the parental strain expressing MG517 alone. Interestingly, the strains co-expressing CDH showed a shift in the GGL profile towards the diglucosylated lipid (up to 80% of total GGLs). Finally, a metabolic strategy was proposed to increase the availability of the other precursor, UDP-Glc. This fifth strategy was based on overexpressing GalU enzyme, which is responsible for the biosynthesis of UDP-Glc, and by removing the UDP-sugar diphosphatase encoding gene ushA. However, none of these modifications further improved the GGL titers. Finally, as it was also reported by our group that phosphatidylethanolamine was exchangeable in the membranes of E. coli by the new GGL compounds, a library of promoters and RBS was designed to decrease the production of this phospholipid trying at the same time to increase the production of glycolipids.




Faijes Simona, Magda 
Planas Sauter, Antoni  


IQS SE - Bioenginyeria

Date of defense