Production of D-lactic acid containing polyhydroxyalkanoate polymers in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) provide biodegradable and bio-based alternatives to conventional plastics. Incorporation of 2-hydroxy acid monomers into polymer, in addition to 3-hydroxy acids, offers possibility to tailor the polymer properties. In this study, poly(D-lactic acid) (PDLA) and copolymer P(LA-3HB) were produced and characterized for the first time in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Expression of engineered PHA synthase PhaC1437Ps6-19, propionyl-CoA transferase Pct540Cp, acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase PhaA, and acetoacetyl-CoA reductase PhaB1 resulted in accumulation of 3.6% P(LA-3HB) and expression of engineered enzymes PhaC1Pre and PctMe resulted in accumulation of 0.73% PDLA of the cell dry weight (CDW). According to NMR, P(LA-3HB) contained D-lactic acid repeating sequences. For reference, expression of PhaA, PhaB1, and PHA synthase PhaC1 resulted in accumulation 11% poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) of the CDW. Weight average molecular weights of these polymers were comparable to similar polymers produced by bacterial strains, 24.6, 6.3, and 1 130 kDa for P(LA-3HB), PDLA, and PHB, respectively. The results suggest that yeast, as a robust and acid tolerant industrial production organism, could be suitable for production of 2-hydroxy acid containing PHAs from sugars or from 2-hydroxy acid containing raw materials. Moreover, the wide substrate specificity of PHA synthase enzymes employed increases the possibilities for modifying copolymer properties in yeast in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberkuab028
JournalJournal of industrial microbiology and biotechnology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Biopolymer
  • Copolymer
  • PHB
  • Poly(D-lactic acid)
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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