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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1991 Dec;57(12):3541-6.

1,3-Propanediol production by Escherichia coli expressing genes from the Klebsiella pneumoniae dha regulon.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706-1691.


The dha regulon in Klebsiella pneumoniae enables the organism to grow anaerobically on glycerol and produce 1,3-propanediol (1,3-PD). Escherichia coli, which does not have a dha system, is unable to grow anaerobically on glycerol without an exogenous electron acceptor and does not produce 1,3-PD. A genomic library of K. pneumoniae ATCC 25955 constructed in E. coli AG1 was enriched for the ability to grow anaerobically on glycerol and dihydroxyacetone and was screened for the production of 1,3-PD. The cosmid pTC1 (42.5 kb total with an 18.2-kb major insert) was isolated from a 1,3-PD-producing strain of E. coli and found to possess enzymatic activities associated with four genes of the dha regulon: glycerol dehydratase (dhaB), 1,3-PD oxidoreductase (dhaT), glycerol dehydrogenase (dhaD), and dihydroxyacetone kinase (dhaK). All four activities were inducible by the presence of glycerol. When E. coli AG1/pTC1 was grown on complex medium plus glycerol, the yield of 1,3-PD from glycerol was 0.46 mol/mol. The major fermentation by-products were formate, acetate, and D-lactate. 1,3-PD is an intermediate in organic synthesis and polymer production. The 1,3-PD fermentation provides a useful model system for studying the interaction of a biochemical pathway in a foreign host and for developing strategies for metabolic pathway engineering.

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