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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2011 Aug;21(4):488-94. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 May 19.

Microbial chemical factories: recent advances in pathway engineering for synthesis of value added chemicals.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The dwindling nature of petroleum and other fossil reserves has provided impetus towards microbial synthesis of fuels and value added chemicals from biomass-derived sugars as a renewable resource. Microbes have naturally evolved enzymes and pathways that can convert biomass into hundreds of unique chemical structures, a property that can be effectively exploited for their engineering into Microbial Chemical Factories (MCFs). De novo pathway engineering facilitates expansion of the repertoire of microbially synthesized compounds beyond natural products. In this review, we visit some recent successes in such novel pathway engineering and optimization, with particular emphasis on the selection and engineering of pathway enzymes and balancing of their accessory cofactors.

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