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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2000 Jan 5;67(1):1-11.

Characterization of recombinant strains of the Clostridium acetobutylicum butyrate kinase inactivation mutant: need for new phenomenological models for solventogenesis and butanol inhibition?

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


Two metabolic engineering tools, namely gene inactivation and gene overexpression, were employed to examine the effects of two genetic modifications on the fermentation characteristics of Clostridium acetobutylicum. Inactivation of the butyrate kinase gene (buk) was examined using strain PJC4BK, while the combined effect of buk inactivation and overexpression of the aad gene-encoding the alcohol aldehyde dehydrogense (AAD) used in butanol formation-was examined using strain PJC4BK(pTAAD). The two strains were characterized in controlled pH > or = 5.0 fermentations, and by a recently enhanced method of metabolic flux analysis. Strain PJC4BK was previously genetically characterized, and fermentation experiments at pH > or = 5.5 demonstrated good, but not exceptional, solvent-production capabilities. Here, we show that this strain is a solvent superproducer in pH > or = 5.0 fermentations producing 225 mM (16.7 g/L) of butanol, 76 mM of acetone (4.4 g/L), and 57 mM (2.6 g/L) of ethanol. Strain PJC4BK(pTAAD) produced similar amounts of butanol and acetone but 98 mM (4.5 g/L) of ethanol. Both strains overcame the 180 mM (13 g/L) butanol toxicity limit, without any selection for butanol tolerance. Work with strain PJC4BK(pTAAD) is the first reported use of dual antibiotic selection in C. acetobutylicum. One antibiotic was used for selection of strain PJC4BK while the second antibiotic selected for the pTAAD presence. Overexpression of aad from pTAAD resulted in increased ethanol production but did not increase butanol titers, thus indicating that AAD did not limit butanol production under these fermentation conditions. Metabolic flux analysis showed a decrease in butyrate formation fluxes by up to 75% and an increase in acetate formation fluxes of up to 100% during early growth. The mean specific butanol and ethanol formation fluxes increased significantly in these recombinant strains, up to 300% and 400%, respectively. Onset of solvent production occurred during the exponential-growth phase when the culture optical density was very low and when total and undissociated butyric acid levels were <1 mM. Butyrate levels were low throughout all fermentations, never exceeding 20 mM. Thus, threshold butyrate concentrations are not necessary for solvent production in these stains, suggesting the need for a new phenomenological model to explain solvent formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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