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Trends Biotechnol. 2007 Sep;25(9):417-24. Epub 2007 Aug 2.

Engineering microbial cell factories for biosynthesis of isoprenoid molecules: beyond lycopene.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The isoprenoid superfamily of compounds holds great potential for delivering commercial therapeutics, neutraceuticals and fine chemicals. As such, it has attracted widespread attention and prompted research aimed at metabolic engineering of the pathway for isoprenoid overproduction. The carotenoids in particular, because of their convenient colorimetric screening properties, have facilitated the investigation of new tools for pathway optimization. Because all isoprenoids share common metabolic precursors, genetic platforms resulting from work with carotenoids can be applied to the biosynthesis of other valuable products. In this review we summarize the many tools and methods that have been developed for isoprenoid pathway engineering, and the potential of these technologies for producing other molecules of this family, especially terpenoids.

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