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Biotechnol Lett. 2013 Dec;35(12):2091-8. doi: 10.1007/s10529-013-1302-7. Epub 2013 Jul 27.

Regulatory properties of malic enzyme in the oleaginous yeast, Yarrowia lipolytica, and its non-involvement in lipid accumulation.

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School of Food Science and Technology, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, 214122, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China,


Malic enzyme (EC converts L-malate to pyruvate and CO2 providing NADPH for metabolism especially for lipid biosynthesis in oleaginous microorganisms. However, its role in the oleaginous yeast, Yarrowia lipolytica, is unclear. We have cloned the malic enzyme gene (YALI0E18634g) from Y. lipolytica into pET28a, expressed it in Escherichia coli and purified the recombinant protein (YlME). YlME used NAD(+) as the primary cofactor. Km values for NAD(+) and NADP(+) were 0.63 and 3.9 mM, respectively. Citrate, isocitrate and α-ketoglutaric acid (>5 mM) were inhibitory while succinate (5-15 mM) increased NADP(+)- but not NAD(+)-dependent activity. To determine if fatty acid biosynthesis could be increased in Y. lipolytica by providing additional NADPH from an NADP(+)-dependent malic enzyme, the malic enzyme gene (mce2) from an oleaginous fungus, Mortierella alpina, was expressed in Y. lipolytica. No significant changes occurred in lipid content or fatty acid profiles suggesting that malic enzyme is not the main source of NADPH for lipid accumulation in Y. lipolytica.

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