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Journal of Biotechnology
Vol. 199, 2015, Pages: 55–61

Engineering of global regulator cAMP receptor protein (CRP) in Escherichia coli for improved lycopene production

Lei Huang, Yue Pu, Xiuliang Yang, Xiangcheng Zhu, Jin Cai, Zhinan Xu

Institute of Bioengineering, College of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


Transcriptional engineering has received significant attention for improving strains by modulating the behavior of transcription factors, which could be used to reprogram a series of gene transcriptions and enable multiple simultaneous modifications at the genomic level. In this study, engineering of the cAMP receptor protein (CRP) was explored with the aim of subtly balancing entire pathway networks and potentially improving lycopene production without significant genetic intervention in other pathways. Amino acid mutations were introduced to CRP by error-prone PCR, and three variants (mcrp26, mcrp159 and mcrp424) with increased lycopene productivity were screened. Combinations of three point mutations were then created via site-directed mutagenesis. The best mutant gene (mcrp26) was integrated into the genome of E. coli BW25113-BIE to replace the wild-type crp gene (MT-1), which resulted in a higher lycopene production (18.49 mg/g DCW) compared to the original strain (WT). The mutant strain MT-1 was further investigated in a 10-L bench-top fermentor with a lycopene yield of 128 mg/l at 20 h, approximately 25% higher than WT. DNA microarray analyses showed that 396 genes (229 up-regulated and 167 down-regulated) were differentially expressed in the mutant MT-1 compared to WT. Finally, the introduction of the mutant crp gene (mcrp26) increased β-carotene production in E. coli. This is the first report of improving the phenotype for metabolite overproduction in E. coli using a CRP engineering strategy.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; cAMP receptor protein; Error-prone PCR; Transcriptional engineering; Lycopene.

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