Metabolic Engineering of Actinobacillus succinogenes Provides Insights into Succinic Acid Biosynthesis

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Actinobacillus succinogenes, a Gram-negative facultative anaerobe, exhibits the native capacity to convert pentose and hexose sugars to succinic acid (SA) with high yield as a tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate. In addition, A. succinogenes is capnophilic, incorporating CO2 into SA, making this organism an ideal candidate host for conversion of lignocellulosic sugars and CO2 to an emerging commodity bioproduct sourced from renewable feedstocks. In this work, we report the development of facile metabolic engineering capabilities in A. succinogenes, enabling examination of SA flux determinants via knockout of the primary competing pathways-namely, acetate and formate production-and overexpression of the key enzymes in the reductive branch of the TCA cycle leading to SA. Batch fermentation experiments with the wild-type and engineered strains using pentose-rich sugar streams demonstrate that the overexpression of the SA biosynthetic machinery (in particular, the enzyme malate dehydrogenase) enhances flux to SA. Additionally, removal of competitive carbon pathways leads to higher-purity SA but also triggers the generation of by-products not previously described from this organism (e.g., lactic acid). The resultant engineered strains also lend insight into energetic and redox balance and elucidate mechanisms governing organic acid biosynthesis in this important natural SA-producing microbe.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere00996-17
Number of pages14
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Society for Microbiology.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-68889


  • Actinobacillus succinogenes
  • Biochemical
  • Biorefinery
  • Fermentation
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Succinic acid


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