Enhanced triacylglycerol production with genetically modified Trichosporon oleaginosus

Kari Koivuranta, Sandra Castillo, Paula Jouhten, Laura Ruohonen, Merja Penttilä, Marilyn G. Wiebe (Corresponding Author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is important in the production of lipids in oleaginous yeast, but other yeast may bypass the mitochondria (PDH bypass), converting pyruvate in the cytosol to acetaldehyde, then acetate and acetyl CoA which is further converted to lipids. Using a metabolic model based on the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, we found that introduction of this bypass to an oleaginous yeast should result in enhanced yield of triacylglycerol (TAG) on substrate. Trichosporon oleaginosus (formerly Cryptococcus curvatus) is an oleaginous yeast which can produce TAGs from both glucose and xylose. Based on the sequenced genome, it lacks at least one of the enzymes needed to complete the PDH bypass, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALD), and may also be deficient in pyruvate decarboxylase and acetyl-CoA synthetase under production conditions. We introduced these genes to T. oleaginosus in various combinations and demonstrated that the yield of TAG on both glucose and xylose was improved, particularly at high C/N ratio. Expression of a phospholipid:diacyltransferase encoding gene in conjunction with the PDH bypass further enhanced lipid production. The yield of TAG on xylose (0.27 g/g) in the engineered strain approached the theoretical maximum yield of 0.289 g/g. Interestingly, TAG production was also enhanced compared to the control in some strains which were given only part of the bypass pathway, suggesting that these genes may contribute to alternative routes to cytoplasmic acetyl CoA. The metabolic model indicated that the improved yield of TAG on substrate in the PDH bypass was dependent on the production of NADPH by ALD. NADPH for lipid synthesis is otherwise primarily supplied by the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). This would contribute to the greater improvement of TAG production from xylose compared to that observed from glucose when the PDH bypass was introduced, since xylose enters metabolism through the non-oxidative part of the PPP. Yield of TAG from xylose in the engineered strains (0.21-0.27 g/g) was comparable to that obtained from glucose and the highest so far reported for lipid or TAG production from xylose.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1337
    Pages (from-to)1337
    JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
    Issue numberJUN
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2018
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Cryptococcus curvatus
    • Enhanced yield
    • Lipid production
    • Pyruvate dehydrogenase bypass
    • Triacylglycerol
    • Trichosporon oleaginosus
    • Yeast


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