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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1413. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2404.

Synthetic RNA devices to expedite the evolution of metabolite-producing microbes.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, San 31, Hyoja-dong, Nam-gu, Pohang 790-784, Korea.


An extension of directed evolution strategies to genome-wide variations increases the chance of obtaining metabolite-overproducing microbes. However, a general high-throughput screening platform for selecting improved strains remains out of reach. Here, to expedite the evolution of metabolite-producing microbes, we utilize synthetic RNA devices comprising a riboswitch and a selection module that specifically sense inconspicuous metabolites. Using L-lysine-producing Escherichia coli as a model system, we demonstrated that this RNA device could enrich pathway-optimized strains to up to 75% of the total population after four rounds of enrichment cycles. Furthermore, the potential applicability of this device was examined by successfully extending its application to the case of L-tryptophan. When used in conjunction with combinatorial mutagenesis for metabolite overproduction, our synthetic RNA device should facilitate strain improvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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