Polycistronic expression of a β-carotene biosynthetic pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae coupled to β-ionone production

J. Beekwilder, H. M. van Rossum, F. Koopman, F. Sonntag, M. Buchhaupt, J. Schrader, R. D. Hall, D. Bosch, J. T. Pronk, A. J.A. van Maris, J.-M. Daran

The flavour and fragrance compound β-ionone, which naturally occurs in raspberry and many other fruits and flowers, is currently produced by synthetic chemistry. This study describes a synthetic biology approach for β-ionone production from glucose by Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is partially based on polycistronic expression. Experiments with model proteins showed that the T2A sequence of the Thosea asigna virus mediated efficient production of individual proteins from a single transcript in S. cerevisiae. Subsequently, three β-carotene biosynthesis genes from the carotenoid-producing ascomycete Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (crtI, crtE and crtYB) were expressed in S. cerevisiae from a single polycistronic construct. In this construct, the individual crt proteins were separated by T2A sequences. Production of the individual proteins from the polycistronic construct was confirmed by Western blot analysis and by measuring the production of β-carotene. To enable β-ionone production, a carotenoid-cleavage dioxygenase from raspberry (RiCCD1) was co-expressed in the β-carotene producing strain. In glucose-grown cultures with a second phase of dodecane, β-ionone and geranylacetone accumulated in the organic phase. Thus, by introducing a polycistronic construct encoding a fungal carotenoid pathway and an expression cassette encoding a plant dioxygenase, a novel microbial production system has been established for a fruit flavour compound.

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