Refactoring of a synthetic raspberry ketone pathway with EcoFlex

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Background: A key focus of synthetic biology is to develop microbial or cell-free based biobased routes to value-added chemicals such as fragrances. Originally, we developed the EcoFlex system, a Golden Gate toolkit, to study genes/pathways flexibly using Escherichia coli heterologous expression. In this current work, we sought to use EcoFlex to optimise a synthetic raspberry ketone biosynthetic pathway. Raspberry ketone is a high-value (~ £20,000 kg−1) fine chemical farmed from raspberry (Rubeus rubrum) fruit. Results: By applying a synthetic biology led design-build-test-learn cycle approach, we refactor the raspberry ketone pathway from a low level of productivity (0.2 mg/L), to achieve a 65-fold (12.9 mg/L) improvement in production. We perform this optimisation at the prototype level (using microtiter plate cultures) with E. coli DH10β, as a routine cloning host. The use of E. coli DH10β facilitates the Golden Gate cloning process for the screening of combinatorial libraries. In addition, we also newly establish a novel colour-based phenotypic screen to identify productive clones quickly from solid/liquid culture. Conclusions: Our findings provide a stable raspberry ketone pathway that relies upon a natural feedstock (L-tyrosine) and uses only constitutive promoters to control gene expression. In conclusion we demonstrate the capability of EcoFlex for fine-tuning a model fine chemical pathway and provide a range of newly characterised promoter tools gene expression in E. coli.




Moore, S. J., Hleba, Y. B., Bischoff, S., Bell, D., Polizzi, K. M., & Freemont, P. S. (2021). Refactoring of a synthetic raspberry ketone pathway with EcoFlex. Microbial Cell Factories, 20(1).

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