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Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 4;7:39768. doi: 10.1038/srep39768.

Production of itaconate by whole-cell bioconversion of citrate mediated by expression of multiple cis-aconitate decarboxylase (cadA) genes in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biological Engineering, College of Engineering, Konkuk University, 1 Hwayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, 143-701, Republic of Korea.
Institute for Ubiquitous Information Technology and Applications (CBRU), Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Republic of Korea.
Department of Environmental Engineering, Ajou University, 206, World cup-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, 443-749, Republic of Korea.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Rhode Island Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America.
IT Convergence Materials R&BD Group, Chungcheong Regional Division Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH) 35-3 Hongchon-ri, Ipjang-myun, Seobuk-gu, Chonan-si, Chungnam 330-825, Republic of Korea.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Soongsil University, 511 Sangdo-dong, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Itaconate, a C5 unsaturated dicarboxylic acid, is an important chemical building block that is used in manufacturing high-value products, such as latex and superabsorbent polymers. Itaconate is produced by fermentation of sugars by the filamentous fungus Aspergillus terreus. However, fermentation by A. terreus involves a long fermentation period and the formation of various byproducts, resulting in high production costs. E. coli has been developed as an alternative for producing itaconate. However, fermentation of glucose gives low conversion yields and low productivity. Here, we report the whole-cell bioconversion of citrate to itaconate with enhanced aconitase and cis-aconitate decarboxylase activities by controlling the expression of multiple cadA genes. In addition, this bioconversion system does not require the use of buffers, which reduces the production cost and the byproducts released during purification. Using this whole-cell bioconversion system, we were able to catalyze the conversion of 319.8 mM of itaconate (41.6 g/L) from 500 mM citrate without any buffer system or additional cofactors, with 64.0% conversion in 19 h and a productivity of 2.19 g/L/h. Our bioconversion system suggests very high productivity for itaconate production.

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