Biosynthesis of isoprene in Escherichia coli via methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway

  • Yaru Zhao
  • Jianming Yang
  • Bo Qin
  • Yonghao Li
  • Yuanzhang Sun
  • Sizheng Su
  • Mo XianEmail author
Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering


Isoprene is an aviation fuel of high quality and an important polymer building block in the synthetic chemistry industry. In light of high oil prices, sustained availability, and environmental concerns, isoprene from renewable materials is contemplated as a substitute for petroleum-based product. Escherichia coli with advantages over other wild microorganisms, is considered as a powerful host for biofuels and chemicals. Here, we constructed a synthetic pathway of isoprene in E. coli by introducing an isoprene synthase (ispS) gene from Populus nigra, which catalyzes the conversion of dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) to isoprene. To improve the isoprene production, we overexpressed the native 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) synthase gene (dxs) and DXP reductoisomerase gene (dxr) in E. coli, which catalyzed the first step and the second step of MEP pathway, respectively. The fed-batch fermentation results showed that overexpression of DXS is helpful for the improvement of isoprene production. Surprisingly, heterologous expression of dxs and dxr from Bacillus subtilis in the E. coli expressing ispS resulted in a 2.3-fold enhancement of isoprene production (from 94 to 314 mg/L). The promising results showed that dxs and dxr from B. subtilis functioned more efficiently on the enhancement of isoprene production than native ones. This could be caused by the consequence of great difference in protein structures of the two original DXSs. It could be practical to produce isoprene in E. coli via MEP pathway through metabolic engineering. This work provides an alternative way for production of isoprene by engineered E. coli via MEP pathway through metabolic engineering.


Isoprene Biosynthesis Escherichia coli MEP pathway 



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation (No.20872075) and CAS 100 Talents Program (KGCXZ-YW-801).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaru Zhao
    • 1
  • Jianming Yang
    • 1
  • Bo Qin
    • 1
  • Yonghao Li
    • 1
  • Yuanzhang Sun
    • 1
  • Sizheng Su
    • 1
  • Mo Xian
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess TechnologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina

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