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Metab Eng. 2003 Jan;5(1):32-41.

Engineering metabolism and product formation in Corynebacterium glutamicum by coordinated gene overexpression.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 56-469 77, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Single gene overexpression in product pathways such as lysine synthesis has often been employed in metabolic engineering efforts aiming at pathway flux amplification and metabolite overproduction. This approach is limited due to metabolic flux imbalances that often lead to unpredictable physiological responses and suboptimal metabolite productivity. This deficiency can be overcome by the coordinated overexpression of more than one flux controlling genes in a production pathway selected by considering their individual contributions on the cell physiology This concept is demonstrated by the simultaneous overexpression of pyruvate carboxylase and aspartate kinase, two key enzymes in central carbon metabolism and the lysine production pathway in Corynebacterium glutamicum. Contrary to expectations based on the importance of each of these two genes in lysine production, the monocistronic overexpression of either gene results in marginal changes in the overall lysine productivity due to either reduced cell growth or reduced lysine specific productivity. In contrast, the simultaneous amplification of the activities of the two enzymes yielded more than 250% increase of the lysine specific productivity in lactate minimal medium without affecting the growth rate or final cell density of the culture. These results demonstrate that significant flux amplification in complex pathways involving central carbon metabolism is possible through coordinated overexpression of more than one gene in the pathway. This can be achieved either by external, gene expression inducing, controls or controls responding to the physiological cellular state.

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