Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 396–400

Metabolic engineering of carotenoid accumulation in Escherichia coli by modulation of the isoprenoid precursor pool with expression of deoxyxylulose phosphate synthase

  • P. D. Matthews
  • E. T. Wurtzel

DOI: 10.1007/s002530051632

Cite this article as:
Matthews, P. & Wurtzel, E. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (2000) 53: 396. doi:10.1007/s002530051632


The recently discovered non-mevalonate pathway to isoprenoids, which uses glycolytic intermediates, has been modulated by overexpression of Escherichia colid-1-deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS) to increase deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate and, consequently, increase the isoprenoid precursor pool in E. coli. Carotenoids are a large class of biologically important compounds synthesized from isoprenoid precursors and of interest for metabolic engineering. However, carotenoids are not ordinarily present in E. coli. Co-overexpression of E. coli dxs with Erwinia uredovora gene clusters encoding carotenoid biosynthetic enzymes led to an increased accumulation of the carotenoids lycopene or zeaxanthin over controls not expressing DXS. Thus, rate-controlling enzymes encoded by the carotenogenic gene clusters are responsive to an increase in isoprenoid precursor pools. Levels of accumulated carotenoids were increased up to 10.8 times the levels of controls not overexpressing DXS. Lycopene accumulated to a level as high as 1333 μg/g dw and zeaxanthin accumulated to a level as high as 592 μg/g dw, when pigments were extracted from colonies. Zeaxanthin-producing colonies grew about twice as fast as lycopene-producing colonies throughout a time course of 11 days. Metabolic engineering of carbon flow from simple glucose metabolites to representatives of the largest class of natural products was demonstrated in this model system.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. D. Matthews
    • 1
  • E. T. Wurtzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Lehman College and The Graduate School and University Center, The City University of New York, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468, USA e-mail: Tel.: +1-718-9608643 Fax: +1-718-9608236/9607348US

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