Production host selection for asymmetric styrene epoxidation: Escherichia coli vs. solvent-tolerant Pseudomonas
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- Kuhn, D., Bühler, B. & Schmid, A. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol (2012) 39: 1125. doi:10.1007/s10295-012-1126-9
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Selection of the ideal microbe is crucial for whole-cell biotransformations, especially if the target reaction intensively interacts with host cell functions. Asymmetric styrene epoxidation is an example of a reaction which is strongly dependent on the host cell owing to its requirement for efficient cofactor regeneration and stable expression of the styrene monooxygenase genes styAB. On the other hand, styrene epoxidation affects the whole-cell biocatalyst, because it involves toxic substrate and products besides the burden of additional (recombinant) enzyme synthesis. With the aim to compare two fundamentally different strain engineering strategies, asymmetric styrene epoxidation by StyAB was investigated using the engineered wild-type strain Pseudomonas sp. strain VLB120ΔC, a styrene oxide isomerase (StyC) knockout strain able to accumulate (S)-styrene oxide, and recombinant E. coli JM101 carrying styAB on the plasmid pSPZ10. Their performance was analyzed during fed-batch cultivation in two-liquid phase biotransformations with respect to specific activity, volumetric productivity, product titer, tolerance of toxic substrate and products, by-product formation, and product yield on glucose. Thereby, Pseudomonas sp. strain VLB120ΔC proved its great potential by tolerating high styrene oxide concentrations and by the absence of by-product formation. The E. coli-based catalyst, however, showed higher specific activities and better yields on glucose. The results not only show the importance but also the complexity of host cell selection and engineering. Finding the optimal strain engineering strategy requires profound understanding of bioprocess and biocatalyst operation. In this respect, a possible negative influence of solvent tolerance on yield and activity is discussed.