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Enzyme Microb Technol. 2001 Jan 2;28(1):16-24.

Expression of E. coli araBAD operon encoding enzymes for metabolizing L-arabinose in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering, Purdue University, 1295 Potter Center, West Lafayette, IN, USA


The Escherichia coli araBAD operon consists of three genes encoding three enzymes that convert L-arabinose to D-xylulose-5 phosphate. In this paper we report that the genes of the E. coli araBAD operon have been expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using strong promoters from genes encoding S. cerevisiae glycolytic enzymes (pyruvate kinase, phosphoglucose isomerase, and phosphoglycerol kinase). The expression of these cloned genes in yeast was demonstrated by the presence of the active enzymes encoded by these cloned genes and by the presence of the corresponding mRNAs in the new host. The level of expression of L-ribulokinase (araB) and L-ribulose-5-phosphate 4-epimerase (araD) in S. cerevisiae was relatively high, with greater than 70% of the activity of the enzymes in wild type E. coli. On the other hand, the expression of L-arabinose isomerase (araA) reached only 10% of the activity of the same enzyme in wild type E. coli. Nevertheless, S. cerevisiae, bearing the cloned L-arabinose isomerase gene, converted L-arabinose to detectable levels of L-ribulose during fermentation. However, S. cerevisiae bearing all three genes (araA, araB, and araD) was not able to produce detectable amount of ethanol from L-arabinose. We speculate that factors such as pH, temperature, and competitive inhibition could reduce the activity of these enzymes to a lower level during fermentation compared to their activity measured in vitro. Thus, the ethanol produced from L-arabinose by recombinant yeast containing the expressed BAD genes is most likely totally consumed by the cell to maintain viability.

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