1,2-propanediol (1,2-PDO) is an industrial chemical with a broad range of applications, such as the production of alkyd and unsaturated polyester resins. It is currently produced as a racemic mixture from nonrenewable petroleum-based feedstocks. We have reported a novel artificial pathway for the biosynthesis of 1,2-PDO via lactic acid isomers as the intermediates. The pathway circumvents the cytotoxicity issue caused by methylglyoxal intermediate in the naturally existing pathway. Successful E. coli bioconversion of lactic acid to 1,2-PDO was shown in previous report. Here, we demonstrated the engineering of E. coli host strains for the de novo biosynthesis of 1,2-PDO through this pathway. Under fermenter-controlled conditions, the R-1,2-PDO was produced at 17.3 g/L with a molar yield of 42.2% from glucose, while the S-isomer was produced at 9.3 g/L with a molar yield of 23.2%. The optical purities of the two isomers were 97.5% ee (R) and 99.3% ee (S), respectively. To the best of our knowledge, these are the highest titers of 1,2-PDO biosynthesized by either natural producer or engineered microbial strains that are published in peer-reviewed journals.
Niu, W., Kramer, L., Mueller, J., Liu, K., & Guo, J. (2019). Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the de novo stereospecific biosynthesis of 1,2-propanediol through lactic acid. Metabolic Engineering Communications, 8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mec.2018.e00082