Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 7, pp 3173–3182 | Cite as

Tuning of acyl-ACP thioesterase activity directed for tailored fatty acid synthesis

  • Yanbin Feng
  • Yunxiu Zhang
  • Yayue Wang
  • Jiao Liu
  • Yinghui Liu
  • Xupeng Cao
  • Song Xue
Biotechnologically relevant enzymes and proteins


Medium-chain fatty acids have attracted significant attention as sources of biofuels in recent years. Acyl-ACP thioesterase, which is considered as the key enzyme to determine the carbon chain length, catalyzes the termination of de novo fatty acid synthesis. Although recombinant medium-chain acyl-ACP thioesterase (TE) affects the fatty acid profile in heterologous cells, tailoring of the fatty acid composition merely by engineering a specific TE is still intractable. In this study, the activity of a C8–C10-specific thioesterase FatB2 from Cuphea hookeriana on C10-ACP was quantified twice as high as that on C8-ACP based on a synthetic C8–C16 acyl-ACP pool in vitro. Whereas in vivo, it was demonstrated that ChFatB2 preferred to accumulate C8 fatty acids with 84.9% composition in the ChFatB2-engineered E. coli strain. To achieve C10 fatty acid production, ChFatB2 was rationally tuned based on structural investigation and enzymatic analysis. An I198E mutant was identified to redistribute the C8-ACP flow, resulting in C10 fatty acid being produced as the principal component at 57.6% of total fatty acids in vivo. It was demonstrated that the activity of TE relative to β-ketoacyl-ACP synthases (KAS) directly determined the fatty acid composition. Our results provide a prospective strategy in tailoring fatty acid synthesis by tuning of TE activities based on TE–ACP interaction.


Acyl-ACP thioesterase Medium-chain fatty acids Fatty acid tailoring Substrate selectivity Competitive relationship 



We appreciate T. Liu (Wuhan University, China) for kindly providing the host strain BAP1 for holo-ACP expression. This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21708040, No. 21576253, No. 31500294, and No. 31470432).

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 or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_8770_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2 mb)
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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanbin Feng
    • 1
  • Yunxiu Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yayue Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiao Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yinghui Liu
    • 1
  • Xupeng Cao
    • 1
  • Song Xue
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Bioengineering Group, Dalian Institute of Chemical PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesDalianChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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