Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 10, pp 4017–4031 | Cite as

Exploiting tandem repetitive promoters for high-level production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid

  • Peng Zhao
  • Chunlu Ma
  • Lida Xu
  • Pingfang TianEmail author
Biotechnological products and process engineering


High-level biosynthesis of desired metabolites is challenging due to complexity of metabolic networks. Here, we report that platform chemical 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) can be overproduced through promoter engineering and growth-sustaining cultivation, two parallel strategies relying on RNA polymerases (RNAPs). First, we screened a promoter library and revealed that IPTG-inducible tac promoter was most effective for overexpression of PuuC, an endogenous aldehyde dehydrogenase catalyzing 3-HP biosynthesis in Klebsiella pneumoniae. Next, tandem repetitive tac promoters were harnessed to accommodate adequate RNAPs. When three tandem repetitive tac promoters were recruited to overexpress PuuC, up to 102.61 g/L 3-HP was produced. This is the highest 3-HP titer reported so far. In addition, lactic acid completely vanished during the late stage of fermentation. The backflow of lactic acid to pyruvic acid saves the trouble of downstream separation of lactic acid from 3-HP, which has long been a mission impossible because they are small-molecule isomers. Furthermore, timely removal of acid stress and replenishment of nitrogen source are crucial for 3-HP biosynthesis. A mathematical model shows that RNAPs modulate the tradeoff between bacterial growth and 3-HP formation. Overall, promoter engineering and growth-promoting cultivation jointly leverage RNAPs to maximize 3-HP. This study provides a paradigm for maximizing growth-coupled metabolites.


3-Hydroxypropionic acid Klebsiella pneumoniae Promoter RNA polymerase Biosynthesis 



Special gratitude is given to Geran Tian for her devotion to refining this manuscript.

Funding information

This study was funded by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21476011), the National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 Program) (No. 2015AA021003), the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (No. 2012CB725200), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (YS1407).

Compliance with ethical standards

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

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2019_9772_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (315 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 315 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Bioprocess, College of Life Science and TechnologyBeijing University of Chemical TechnologyBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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