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Due to its pleasant rose-like scent, 2-phenylethanol (2-PE) has been widely used in the fields of cosmetics and food. Microbial production of 2-PE offers a natural and sustainable production process. However, the current bioprocesses for de novo production of 2-PE suffer from low titer, yield, and productivity. In this work, a multilevel metabolic engineering strategy was employed for the high-level production of 2-PE. Firstly, the native alcohol dehydrogenase YugJ was identified and characterized for 2-PE production via genome mining and gene function analysis. Subsequently, the redirection of carbon flux into 2-PE biosynthesis by combining optimization of Ehrlich pathway, central metabolic pathway, and phenylpyruvate pathway enabled the production of 2-PE to a titer of 1.81 g/L. Specifically, AroK and AroD were identified as the rate-limiting enzymes of 2-PE production through transcription and metabolite analyses, and overexpression of aroK and aroD efficiently boosted 2-PE synthesis. The precursor competing pathways were blocked by eliminating byproduct formation pathways and modulating the glucose transport system. Under the optimal condition, the engineered strain PE23 produced 6.24 g/L of 2-PE with a yield and productivity of 0.14 g/g glucose and 0.13 g/L/h, respectively, using a complex medium in shake flasks. This work achieves the highest titer, yield, and productivity of 2-PE from glucose via the phenylpyruvate pathway. This study provides a promising platform that might be widely useful for improving the production of aromatic-derived chemicals. Copyright © 2022 International Metabolic Engineering Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Yangyang Zhan, Jiao Shi, Yuan Xiao, Fei Zhou, Huan Wang, Haixia Xu, Zhi Li, Shihui Yang, Dongbo Cai, Shouwen Chen. Multilevel metabolic engineering of Bacillus licheniformis for de novo biosynthesis of 2-phenylethanol. Metabolic engineering. 2022 Mar;70:43-54

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PMID: 35038552

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