Biotechnology and bioengineering

Limitation of thiamine pyrophosphate supply to growing Escherichia coli switches metabolism to efficient D-lactate formation.

PMID 26152364


Efficient production of D-lactate by engineered Escherichia coli entails balancing cell growth and product synthesis. To develop a metabolic switch to implement a desirable transition from cell growth to product fermentation, a thiamine auxotroph B0013-080A was constructed in a highly efficient D-lactate producer E. coli strain B0013-070. This was achieved by inactivation of thiE, a gene encoding a thiamine phosphate synthase for biosynthesis of thiamine monophosphate. The resultant mutant B0013-080A failed to grow on the medium in the absence of thiamine yet growth was restored when exogenous thiamine was provided. A linear relationship between cell mass formation and amount of thiamine supplemented was mathematically determined in a shake flask experiment and confirmed in a 7-L bioreactor system. This calculation revealed that ∼ 95-96 thiamine molecules per cell were required to satisfy cell growth. This relationship was employed to develop a novel fermentation process for D-lactate production by using thiamine as a limiting condition. A D-lactate productivity of 4.11 g · L(-1) · h(-1) from glycerol under microaerobic condition and 3.66 g · L(-1) · h(-1) from glucose under anaerobic condition was achieved which is 19.1% and 10.2% higher respectively than the parental strain. These results revealed a convenient and reliable method to control cell growth and improve D-lactate fermentation. This control strategy could be applied to other biotechnological processes that require optimal allocation of carbon between cell growth and product formation.