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A modified synthetic acetone operon was constructed. It consists of two genes from Clostridium acetobutylicum (thlA coding for thiolase and adc coding for acetoacetate decarboxylase) and one from Bacillus subtilis or Haemophilus influenzae (teII(srf) or ybgC, respectively, for thioesterase). Expression of this operon in Escherichia coli resulted in the production of acetone starting from the common metabolite acetyl-CoA via acetoacetyl-CoA and acetoacetate. The thioesterases do not need a CoA acceptor for acetoacetyl-CoA hydrolysis. Thus, in contrast to the classic acetone pathway of Clostridium acetobutylicum and related microorganisms which employ a CoA transferase, the new pathway is acetate independent. The genetic background of the host strains was crucial. Only E. coli strains HB101 and WL3 were able to produce acetone via the modified plasmid based pathway, up to 64mM and 42mM in 5-ml cultures, respectively. Using glucose fed-batch cultures the concentration could be increased up to 122mM acetone with HB101 carrying the recombinant plasmid pUC19ayt (thioesterase from H. influenzae). The formation of acetone led to a decreased acetate production by E. coli. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Antje May, Ralf-Jörg Fischer, Simone Maria Thum, Steffen Schaffer, Stefan Verseck, Peter Dürre, Hubert Bahl. A modified pathway for the production of acetone in Escherichia coli. Metabolic engineering. 2013 Jan;15:218-25

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PMID: 22906955

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