Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 5, pp 2179–2189 | Cite as

Engineering Escherichia coli for glycolic acid production from D-xylose through the Dahms pathway and glyoxylate bypass

  • Rhudith B. Cabulong
  • Won-Keun Lee
  • Angelo B. Bañares
  • Kristine Rose M. Ramos
  • Grace M. Nisola
  • Kris Niño G. Valdehuesa
  • Wook-Jin Chung
Biotechnological products and process engineering


Glycolic acid (GA) is an ⍺-hydroxy acid used in cosmetics, packaging, and medical industries due to its excellent properties, especially in its polymeric form. In this study, Escherichia coli was engineered to produce GA from D-xylose by linking the Dahms pathway, the glyoxylate bypass, and the partial reverse glyoxylate pathway (RGP). Initially, a GA-producing strain was constructed by disrupting the xylAB and glcD genes in the E. coli genome and overexpressing the xdh(Cc) from Caulobacter crescentus. This strain was further improved through modular optimization of the Dahms pathway and the glyoxylate bypass. Results for module 1 showed that the rate-limiting step of the Dahms pathway was the xylonate dehydratase reaction, and the overexpression of yagF was sufficient to overcome this bottleneck. Furthermore, the appropriate aldolase gene for module 1 was proven to be yagE. The results also show that overexpression of the lactaldehyde dehydrogenase gene, aldA, is needed to increase the GA production while the overexpression of glyoxylate reductase gene, ycdW, was only essential when the glyoxylate bypass was active. On the other hand, the module 2 enzymes AceA and AceK were vital in activating the glyoxylate bypass, while the RGP enzymes were dispensable. The final strain (GA19) produced 4.57 g/L GA with a yield of 0.46 g/g from D-xylose. So far, this is the highest value achieved for GA production in engineered E. coli through the Dahms pathway.


Glycolate Dahms pathway Xylose Reverse glyoxylate shunt pathway Glyoxylate bypass Escherichia coli 


Funding information

This work was supported by Korea Research Fellowship Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (2015H1D3A1062172 and 2016R1C1B1013252) and by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (No. 2009-0093816).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_8744_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (190 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 190 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Energy Science and Technology (DEST), Energy and Environment Fusion Technology Center (E2FTC)Myongji UniversityYonginSouth Korea
  2. 2.Division of Bioscience and BioinformaticsMyongji UniversityYonginSouth Korea

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