Pyruvate is a key intermediate that is involved in various synthetic metabolic pathways for microbial chemical and fuel production. It is widely used in the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. However, the microbial production of pyruvate and its derivatives compete with microbial cell growth, as pyruvate is an important metabolic intermediate that serves as a hub for various endogenous metabolic pathways, including gluconeogenesis, amino acid synthesis, TCA cycle, and fatty acid biosynthesis. To achieve a more efficient bioprocess for the production of pyruvate and its derivatives, it is necessary to reduce the metabolic imbalance between cell growth and target chemical production. For this purpose, we devised a dynamic metabolic engineering strategy within an Escherichia coli model, in which a metabolic toggle switch (MTS) was employed to redirect metabolic flux from the endogenous pathway toward the target synthetic pathway. Through a combination of TCA cycle interruption through MTS and reduction of pyruvate consumption in endogenous pathways, we achieved a drastic improvement (163 mM, 26-fold) in pyruvate production. In addition, we demonstrated the redirection of metabolic flux from excess pyruvate toward isobutanol production. The final isobutanol production titer of the strain harboring MTS was 26% improved compared with that of the control strain.
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