Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 86, Issue 4, pp 1077–1088 | Cite as

Reconstruction of the violacein biosynthetic pathway from Duganella sp. B2 in different heterologous hosts

  • Pei-xia Jiang
  • Hai-sheng Wang
  • Chong Zhang
  • Kai Lou
  • Xin-Hui Xing
Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering


Violacein is a bacteria-originated indolocarbazole pigment with potential applications due to its various bioactivities such as anti-tumor, antiviral, and antifungal activities. However, stable mass production of this pigment is difficult due to its low productivities and the instability of wild-type violacein-producing strains. In order to establish a stable and efficient production system for violacein, the violacein synthesis pathway from a new species of Duganella sp. B2 was reconstructed in different bacterial strains including Escherichia coli, Citrobacter freundii, and Enterobacter aerogenes by using different vectors. The gene cluster that encodes five enzymes involved in the violacein biosynthetic pathway was first isolated from Duganella sp. B2, and three recombinant expression vectors were constructed using the T7 promoter or the alkane-responsive promoter PalkB. Our results showed that violacein could be stably synthesized in E. coli, C. freundii, and E. aerogenes. Interestingly, we found that there were great differences between the different recombinant strains, not only in the protein expression profiles pertaining to violacein biosynthesis but also in the productivity and composition of crude violacein. Among the host strains tested, the crude violacein production by the recombinant C. freundii strain reached 1.68 g L−1 in shake flask cultures, which was 4-fold higher than the highest production previously reported in flask culture by other groups. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the efficient production of violacein by genetically engineered strains.


Violacein Deoxyviolacein Biosynthesis Duganella sp. B2 Heterologous expression 



The authors thank Prof. B. Witholt of ETH, Swiss for kindly donating the plasmid pCom10. This work was supported in part by the National Science Fund of China (Grant No. 20676071 and 20836004), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (Grant No. 023206061) and Xinjiang-supporting project by Science and Technology (Grant No. 200991132).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pei-xia Jiang
    • 1
  • Hai-sheng Wang
    • 2
  • Chong Zhang
    • 1
  • Kai Lou
    • 3
  • Xin-Hui Xing
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biochemical Engineering, Department of Chemical EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of MicrobiologyXinjiang Academy of Agricultural SciencesUrumqiPeople’s Republic of China

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