Metabolic assessment of E. coli as a Biofactory for commercial products
•Metabolic engineering potential of E. coli was computationally investigated.•1777 non-native chemicals could be made by adding heterologous reactions to E. coli.•279 non-native chemicals have commercial applications.•Precursors and paths to non-native commercial products were identified.
Metabolic engineering uses microorganisms to synthesize chemicals from renewable resources. Given the thousands of known metabolites, it is unclear what valuable chemicals could be produced by a microorganism and what native and heterologous reactions are needed for their synthesis. To answer these questions, a systematic computational assessment of Escherichia coli’s potential ability to produce different chemicals was performed using an integrated metabolic model that included native E.coli reactions and known heterologous reactions. By adding heterologous reactions, a total of 1777 non-native products could theoretically be produced in E. coli under glucose minimal medium conditions, of which 279 non-native products have commercial applications. Synthesis pathways involving native and heterologous reactions were identified from eight central metabolic precursors to the 279 non-native commercial products. These pathways were used to evaluate the dependence on, and diversity of, native and heterologous reactions to produce each non-native commercial product, as well as to identify each product׳s closest central metabolic precursor. Analysis of the synthesis pathways (with 5 or fewer reaction steps) to non-native commercial products revealed that isopentenyl diphosphate, pyruvate, and oxaloacetate are the closest central metabolic precursors to the most non-native commercial products. Additionally, 4-hydroxybenzoate, tyrosine, and phenylalanine were found to be common precursors to a large number of non-native commercial products. Strains capable of producing high levels of these precursors could be further engineered to create strains capable of producing a variety of commercial non-native chemicals.
Journal: Metabolic Engineering - Volume 35, May 2016, Pages 64–74