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J Bacteriol. 2003 Jun;185(12):3644-53.

Antisense RNA downregulation of coenzyme A transferase combined with alcohol-aldehyde dehydrogenase overexpression leads to predominantly alcohologenic Clostridium acetobutylicum fermentations.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


Plasmid pAADB1 for the overexpression of the alcohol-aldehyde dehydrogenase (aad) gene and downregulation of the coenzyme A transferase (CoAT) using antisense RNA (asRNA) against ctfB (the second CoAT gene on the polycistronic aad-ctfA-ctfB message) was used in order to increase the butanol/acetone ratio of Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824 fermentations. Acetone and butanol levels were drastically reduced in 824(pCTFB1AS) (expresses only an asRNA against ctfB) compared to 824(pSOS95del) (plasmid control). Compared to strain 824(pCTFB1AS), 824(pAADB1) fermentations exhibited two profound differences. First, butanol levels were ca. 2.8-fold higher in 824(pAADB1) and restored back to plasmid control levels, thus supporting the hypothesis that asRNA downregulation of ctfB leads to degradation of the whole aad-ctfA-ctfB transcript. Second, ethanol titers in 824(pAADB1) were ca. 23-fold higher and the highest (ca. 200 mM) ever reported in C. acetobutylicum. Western blot analysis confirmed that CoAT was downregulated in 824(pAADB1) at nearly the same levels as in strain 824(pCTFB1AS). Butyrate depletion in 824(pAADB1) fermentations suggested that butyryl-CoA was limiting butanol production in 824(pAADB1). This was confirmed by exogenously adding butyric acid to 824(pAADB1) fermentations to increase the butanol/ethanol ratio. DNA microarray analysis showed that aad overexpression profoundly affects the large-scale transcriptional program of the cells. Several classes of genes were differentially expressed [strain 824(pAADB1) versus strain 824(pCTFB1AS)], including genes of the stress response, sporulation, and chemotaxis. The expression patterns of the CoAT genes (ctfA and ctfB) and aad were consistent with the overexpression of aad and asRNA downregulation of ctfB.

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