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One-carbon compounds such as methanol and methane are cheap and readily available feedstocks for biomanufacturing. Oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde catalyzed by methanol dehydrogenase (MDH) is a key step of microbial one-carbon metabolism. A variety of MDHs that depend on different co-factors and possess different enzymatic properties have been discovered from native methylotrophs. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent MDHs are widely used in constructing synthetic methylotrophs, whereas this type of MDH usually suffers from low methanol oxidation activity and low affinity to methanol. Consequently, methanol oxidation is considered as a rate-limiting step of methanol metabolism in synthetic methylotrophs. To accelerate methanol oxidation, thereby improving the methanol utilization efficiency of synthetic methylotrophs, massive researches have focused on discovery and engineering of MDHs. In this review, we summarize the ongoing efforts to discover, characterize, and engineer various types of MDHs as well as the applications of MDHs in synthetic methylotrophs. Directed evolution of MDH and construction of multi-enzyme complexes are described in detail. In the future prospective part, we discuss the potential strategies of growth-coupled protein evolution and rational protein design for acquisition of superior MDHs.


Liwen Fan, Yu Wang, Ping Zheng, Jibin Sun. Methanol dehydrogenase, a key enzyme of one-carbon metabolism: a review]. Sheng wu gong cheng xue bao = Chinese journal of biotechnology. 2021 Feb 25;37(2):530-540

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PMID: 33645153

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