Genetic engineering of S. cerevisiae for pentose utilization

Peter Richard, Ritva Verho, Mikko Putkonen, John Londesborough, Merja Penttilä

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsScientific


    The two most widespread pentose sugars in our biosphere are D-xylose and L-arabinose. The pentose catabolic pathways are relevant for microorganisms living on decaying plant material and also in biotechnology when cheap raw materials such as plant hydrolysates are fermented to ethanol. We recently identified the two missing genes in the fungal pathway for L-arabinose catabolism. The functional overexpression of all the genes of the pathway in S cerevisiae led to growth on L-arabinose and ethanol production under anaerobic conditions however at very low rates. Pentose, i.e. D-xylose and L-arabinose fermentation to ethanol with recombinant S. cerevisiae is slow and has low yield. One reason is that the catabolism of these pentoses through the corresponding fungal pathways creates an imbalance of redox cofactors. The process, although redox neutral, requires NADPH which must be regenerated in a separate process. To facilitate the NADPH regeneration, the recently discovered gene GDP1 coding for a fungal NADP GAPDH was expressed in a S. cerevisiae strain with the D-xylose pathway. Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase is the main path for NADPH regeneration, however it causes futile CO2 production and creates a redox imbalance on the pathway for anaerobic fermentation to ethanol. The deletion of the corresponding gene, zwf1, in combination with overexpression of GDP1 could stimulate D-xylose fermentation with respect to rate and yield; i.e. less CO2 and xylitol were produced. Through redox engineering a yeast strain, which was mainly producing xylitol and CO2 from D-xylose, was converted to a strain producing mainly ethanol.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication1st FEMS Congress of European Microbiologists. Ljubljana, Slovenia, 29 June - 3 July 2003
    Subtitle of host publicationAbstract Book
    Publication statusPublished - 2003
    Event1st FEMS Congress of European Microbiologists - Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Duration: 29 Jun 20033 Jul 2003


    Conference1st FEMS Congress of European Microbiologists


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