Metabolism of Syringyl Lignin-Derived Compounds in Pseudomonas putida Enables Convergent Production of 2-Pyrone-4,6-Dicarboxylic Acid

Sandra Notonier, Allison Z. Werner, Eugene Kuatsjah, Linda Dumalo, Paul E. Abraham, E. Anne Hatmaker, Caroline B. Hoyt, Antonella Amore, Kelsey J. Ramirez, Sean P. Woodworth, Dawn M. Klingeman, Richard J. Giannone, Adam M. Guss, Robert L. Hettich, Lindsay D. Eltis, Christopher W. Johnson, Gregg T. Beckham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus Citations


Valorization of lignin, an abundant component of plant cell walls, is critical to enabling the lignocellulosic bioeconomy. Biological funneling using microbial biocatalysts has emerged as an attractive approach to convert complex mixtures of lignin depolymerization products to value-added compounds. Ideally, biocatalysts would convert aromatic compounds derived from the three canonical types of lignin: syringyl (S), guaiacyl (G), and p-hydroxyphenyl (H). Pseudomonas putida KT2440 (hereafter KT2440) has been developed as a biocatalyst owing in part to its native catabolic capabilities but is not known to catabolize S-type lignin-derived compounds. Here, we demonstrate that syringate, a common S-type lignin-derived compound, is utilized by KT2440 only in the presence of another energy source or when vanAB was overexpressed, as syringate was found to be O-demethylated to gallate by VanAB, a two-component monooxygenase, and further catabolized via extradiol cleavage. Unexpectedly, the specificity (kcat/KM) of VanAB for syringate was within 25% that for vanillate and O-demethylation of both substrates was well-coupled to O2 consumption. However, the native KT2440 gallate-cleaving dioxygenase, GalA, was potently inactivated by 3-O-methylgallate. To engineer a biocatalyst to simultaneously convert S-, G-, and H-type monomers, we therefore employed VanAB from Pseudomonas sp. HR199, which has lower activity for 3MGA, and LigAB, an extradiol dioxygenase able to cleave protocatechuate and 3-O-methylgallate. This strain converted 93% of a mixture of lignin monomers to 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylate, a promising bio-based chemical. Overall, this study elucidates a native pathway in KT2440 for catabolizing S-type lignin-derived compounds and demonstrates the potential of this robust chassis for lignin valorization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Metabolic Engineering Society

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-78260


  • 2-Pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylic acid
  • Aromatic catabolism
  • Biological funneling
  • S-Lignin
  • Syringic acid


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