Replacing the Ethylmalonyl-CoA Pathway with the Glyoxylate Shunt Provides Metabolic Flexibility in the Central Carbon Metabolism of Methylobacterium extorquens AM1.

L. Schada von Borzyskowski, F. Sonntag, L. Pöschel , J. A. Vorholt, J. Schrader, T. J. Erb, M. Buchhaupt

The ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway (EMCP) is an anaplerotic reaction sequence in the central carbon metabolism of numerous Proteo- and Actinobacteria. The pathway features several CoA-bound mono- and dicarboxylic acids that are of interest as platform chemicals for the chemical industry. The EMCP, however, is essential for growth on C1 and C2 carbon substrates and therefore cannot be simply interrupted to drain these intermediates. In this study, we aimed at reengineering central carbon metabolism of the Alphaproteobacterium Methylobacterium extorquens AM1 for the specific production of EMCP derivatives in the supernatant. Establishing a heterologous glyoxylate shunt in M. extorquens AM1 restored wild type-like growth in several EMCP knockout strains on defined minimal medium with acetate as carbon source. We further engineered one of these strains that carried a deletion of the gene encoding crotonyl-CoA carboxylase/reductase to demonstrate in a proof-of-concept the specific production of crotonic acid in the supernatant on a defined minimal medium. Our experiments demonstrate that it is in principle possible to further exploit the EMCP by establishing an alternative central carbon metabolic pathway in M. extorquens AM1, opening many possibilities for the biotechnological production of EMCP-derived compounds in future.

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