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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Dec;66(12):5253-8.

Application of a propionyl coenzyme A synthetase for poly(3-hydroxypropionate-co-3-hydroxybutyrate) accumulation in recombinant Escherichia coli.

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Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri 63167, USA.


The genetic operon for propionic acid degradation in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium contains an open reading frame designated prpE which encodes a propionyl coenzyme A (propionyl-CoA) synthetase (A. R. Horswill and J. C. Escalante-Semerena, Microbiology 145:1381-1388, 1999). In this paper we report the cloning of prpE by PCR, its overexpression in Escherichia coli, and the substrate specificity of the enzyme. When propionate was utilized as the substrate for PrpE, a K(m) of 50 microM and a specific activity of 120 micromol. min(-1). mg(-1) were found at the saturating substrate concentration. PrpE also activated acetate, 3-hydroxypropionate (3HP), and butyrate to their corresponding coenzyme A esters but did so much less efficiently than propionate. When prpE was coexpressed with the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biosynthetic genes from Ralstonia eutropha in recombinant E. coli, a PHA copolymer containing 3HP units accumulated when 3HP was supplied with the growth medium. To compare the utility of acyl-CoA synthetases to that of an acyl-CoA transferase for PHA production, PHA-producing recombinant strains were constructed to coexpress the PHA biosynthetic genes with prpE, with acoE (an acetyl-CoA synthetase gene from R. eutropha [H. Priefert and A. Steinbüchel, J. Bacteriol. 174:6590-6599, 1992]), or with orfZ (an acetyl-CoA:4-hydroxybutyrate-CoA transferase gene from Clostridium propionicum [H. E. Valentin, S. Reiser, and K. J. Gruys, Biotechnol. Bioeng. 67:291-299, 2000]). Of the three enzymes, PrpE and OrfZ enabled similar levels of 3HP incorporation into PHA, whereas AcoE was significantly less effective in this capacity.

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