Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the production of cinnamaldehyde

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Background: Plant parasitic nematodes are harmful to agricultural crops and plants, and may cause severe yield losses. Cinnamaldehyde, a volatile, yellow liquid commonly used as a flavoring or food additive, is increasingly becoming a popular natural nematicide because of its high nematicidal activity and, there is a high demand for the development of a biological platform to produce cinnamaldehyde. Results: We engineered Escherichia coli as an eco-friendly biological platform for the production of cinnamaldehyde. In E. coli, cinnamaldehyde can be synthesized from intracellular l-phenylalanine, which requires the activities of three enzymes: phenylalanine-ammonia lyase (PAL), 4-coumarate:CoA ligase (4CL), and cinnamoyl-CoA reductase (CCR). For the efficient production of cinnamaldehyde in E. coli, we first examined the activities of enzymes from different sources and a gene expression system for the selected enzymes was constructed. Next, the metabolic pathway for l-phenylalanine biosynthesis was engineered to increase the intracellular pool of l-phenylalanine, which is a main precursor of cinnamaldehyde. Finally, we tried to produce cinnamaldehyde with the engineered E. coli. According to this result, cinnamaldehyde production as high as 75mg/L could be achieved, which was about 35-fold higher compared with that in the parental E. coli W3110 harboring a plasmid for cinnamaldehyde biosynthesis. We also confirmed that cinnamaldehyde produced by our engineered E. coli had a nematicidal activity similar to the activity of commercial cinnamaldehyde by nematicidal assays against Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. Conclusion: As a potential natural pesticide, cinnamaldehyde was successfully produced in E. coli by construction of the biosynthesis pathway and, its production titer was also significantly increased by engineering the metabolic pathway of l-phenylalanine.




Bang, H. B., Lee, Y. H., Kim, S. C., Sung, C. K., & Jeong, K. J. (2016). Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the production of cinnamaldehyde. Microbial Cell Factories, 15(1).

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