Isoprene is a naturally produced hydrocarbon emitted into the atmosphere by green plants. It is also a constituent of synthetic rubber and a potential biofuel. Microbial production of isoprene can become a sustainable alternative to the prevailing chemical production of isoprene from petroleum. In this work, sequence homology searches were conducted to find novel isoprene synthases. Candidate sequences were functionally expressed in Escherichia coli and the desired enzymes were identified based on an isoprene production assay. The activity of three enzymes was shown for the first time: expression of the candidate genes from Ipomoea batatas, Mangifera indica, and Elaeocarpus photiniifolius resulted in isoprene formation. The Ipomoea batatas isoprene synthase produced the highest amounts of isoprene in all experiments, exceeding the isoprene levels obtained by the previously known Populus alba and Pueraria montana isoprene synthases that were studied in parallel as controls.
- genome mining
- homology-based screening