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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Feb;71(2):835-41.

Application of the BPEC pathway for large-scale biotechnological production of poly(3-mercaptopropionate) by recombinant Escherichia coli, including a novel in situ isolation method.

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  • 1Institut für Molekulare Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Corrensstrasse 3, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


Metabolically engineered Escherichia coli JM109 harboring plasmid pBPP1 and expressing the nonnatural BPEC pathway for synthesis of thermoplastic polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and novel polythioesters (PTE) to provide suitable substrates of PHA synthase was investigated with respect to biotechnological production of poly(3-mercaptopropionate) [poly(3MP)]. Fed-batch fermentation processes were established at the 30- and 500-liter scales in stirred tank bioreactors to produce kilogram amounts of poly(3MP). Cultivation was done in a modified M9 mineral salts medium containing glucose or glycerol as the carbon and energy source and with 3-mercaptopropionic acid (3MP) as the precursor substrate for poly(3MP) biosynthesis provided from the late exponential growth phase. Approximately 23 g of cell dry matter (CDM) per liter and poly(3MP) cell contents of up to 45% (wt/wt) were the highest cell densities and polymer contents obtained, respectively. At best, 69.1% (wt/wt) of 3MP was converted into poly(3MP), indicating that 3MP was mostly used for poly(3MP) biosynthesis. Furthermore, a novel in situ process for rapid and convenient isolation of poly(3MP) from the cells in the bioreactor was developed. This was achieved by addition of sodium dodecyl sulfate to the cultivation broth immediately after the fermentation, heating to 90 degrees C for 20 min with intensive stirring, and subsequent washing steps. The purity of such in situ isolated poly(3MP) was more than 98%, as revealed by gas chromatographic and elemental sulfur analyses of the material isolated.

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