Eliminating a Global Regulator of Carbon Catabolite Repression Enhances the Conversion of Aromatic Lignin Monomers to Muconate in Pseudomonas putida KT2440

Gregg Beckham, Christopher Johnson, Jeffrey Linger, Paul Abraham, Payal Khanna, Robert Hettich

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Carbon catabolite repression refers to the preference of microbes to metabolize certain growth substrates over others in response to a variety of regulatory mechanisms. Such preferences are important for the fitness of organisms in their natural environments, but may hinder their performance as domesticated microbial cell factories. In a Pseudomonas putida KT2440 strain engineered to convert lignin-derived aromatic monomers such as p-coumarate and ferulate to muconate, a precursor to bio-based nylon and other chemicals, metabolic intermediates including 4-hydroxybenzoate and vanillate accumulate and subsequently reduce productivity. We hypothesized that these metabolic bottlenecks may be, at least in part, the effect of carbon catabolite repression caused by glucose or acetate, more preferred substrates that must be provided to the strain for supplementary energy and cell growth. Using mass spectrometry-based proteomics, we have identified the 4-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase, PobA, and the vanillate demethylase, VanAB, as targets of the Catabolite Repression Control (Crc) protein, a global regulator of carbon catabolite repression. By deleting the gene encoding Crc from this strain, the accumulation of 4-hydroxybenzoate and vanillate are reduced and, as a result, muconate production is enhanced. In cultures grown on glucose, the yield of muconate produced from p-coumarate after 36 h was increased nearly 70% with deletion of the gene encoding Crc (94.6 ± 0.6% vs. 56.0 ± 3.0% (mol/mol)) while the yield from ferulate after 72 h was more than doubled (28.3 ± 3.3% vs. 12.0 ± 2.3% (mol/mol)). The effect of eliminating Crc was similar in cultures grown on acetate, with the yield from p-coumarate just slightly higher in the Crc deletion strain after 24 h (47.7 ± 0.6% vs. 40.7 ± 3.6% (mol/mol)) and the yield from ferulate increased more than 60% after 72 h (16.9 ± 1.4% vs. 10.3 ± 0.1% (mol/mol)). These results are an example of the benefit that reducing carbon catabolite repression can have on conversion of complex feedstocks by microbial cell factories, a concept we posit could be broadly considered as a strategy in metabolic engineering for conversion of renewable feedstocks to value-added chemicals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalMetabolic Engineering Communications
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-68933


  • Carbon catabolite repression
  • Catabolite repression control
  • ciscis-Muconate
  • Crc
  • Lignin valorization
  • Muconic acid
  • Pseudomonas putida KT2440


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