Background: Propane, a major component of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) derived from fossil fuels, has widespread applications in vehicles, cooking, and ambient heating. Given the concerns about fossil fuel depletion and carbon emission, exploiting alternative and renewable source of propane have become attractive. In this study, we report the construction of a novel propane biosynthetic pathway in Escherichia coli. Results: We constructed an aldehyde reductases (ALR)-deprived E. coli strain BW25113(DE3) Δ13 via genetic engineering, which produced sufficient isobutyraldehyde precursors and finally achieved de novo synthesis of propane (91 μg/L) by assembling the engineered valine pathway and cyanobacterial aldehyde-deformylating oxygenase (ADO). Additionally, after extensive screening of ADO mutants generated by engineering the active center to accommodate branched-chain isobutyraldehyde, we identified two ADO mutants (I127G, I127G/A48G) which exhibited higher catalytic activity for isobutyraldehyde and improved propane productivity by three times (267 μg/L). Conclusions: The propane biosynthetic pathway constructed here through the engineered valine pathway can produce abundant isobutyraldehyde for ADO and overcome the low availability of precursors in propane production. Furthermore, the rational design aiming at the ADO active center illustrates the plasticity and catalytic potential of ADO. These results together highlight the potential for developing a microbial biomanufacturing platform for propane.
Zhang, L., Liang, Y., Wu, W., Tan, X., & Lu, X. (2016). Microbial synthesis of propane by engineering valine pathway and aldehyde-deformylating oxygenase. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13068-016-0496-z