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Cyanobacteria hold promise for renewable chemical production due to their photosynthetic nature, but engineered strains frequently display poor production characteristics. These difficulties likely arise in part due to the distinctive photoautotrophic metabolism of cyanobacteria. In this work, we apply a genome-scale metabolic model of the cyanobacteria Synechococus sp. PCC 7002 to identify strain designs accounting for this unique metabolism that are predicted to improve the production of various biofuel alcohols (e.g. 2-methyl-1-butanol, isobutanol, and 1-butanol) synthesized via an engineered biosynthesis pathway. Using the model, we identify that the introduction of a large, non-native NADH-demand into PCC 7002's metabolic network is predicted to enhance production of these alcohols by promoting NADH-generating reactions upstream of the production pathways. To test this, we construct strains of PCC 7002 that utilize a heterologous, NADH-dependent nitrite reductase in place of the native, ferredoxin-dependent enzyme to create an NADH-demand in the cells when grown on nitrate-containing media. We find that photosynthetic production of both isobutanol and 2-methyl-1-butanol is significantly improved in the engineered strain background relative to that in a wild-type background. We additionally identify that the use of high-nutrient media leads to a substantial prolongment of the production curve in our alcohol production strains. The metabolic engineering strategy identified and tested in this work presents a novel approach to engineer cyanobacterial production strains that takes advantage of a unique aspect of their metabolism and serves as a basis on which to further develop strains with improved production of these alcohols and related products. Copyright © 2021 International Metabolic Engineering Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Hugh M Purdy, Brian F Pfleger, Jennifer L Reed. Introduction of NADH-dependent nitrate assimilation in Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 improves photosynthetic production of 2-methyl-1-butanol and isobutanol. Metabolic engineering. 2022 Jan;69:87-97

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PMID: 34774761

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