Sugar acids can be used as platform chemicals to generate primary building blocks of industrially relevant products. Microbial production of these organic compounds at high yields requires the engineering of the enzymatic machinery and the presence of plasma membrane transporters able to export them outside the cells. In this study, several yeast carboxylic acid transporters belonging to the Jen family were screened for the transport of biotechnologically relevant sugar acids, namely gluconic, saccharic, mucic, xylaric and xylonic acid, and functionally characterised in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We show that Jen permeases are capable of transporting most of these sugar acids, although with different specificities. Saccharate is a substrate of the transporters ScJen1-S271Q and KlJen2, gluconate of CaJen2 and KlJen2, and xylarate and mucate of CaJen2. A molecular docking approach of these transporters identified the residues that play a major role in the substrate binding of these sugar acids, namely R188 (ScJen1), R122 (CaJen2) and R127 (KlJen2), all equivalent residues (TMS II). The identification of Jen members as sugar acid transporters can contribute to engineering efficient microbial cell factories with increased sugar acid production, as the ScJen1 is able to promote substrate efflux.
- carboxylate transporters
- Jen family
- microbial production of acids
- sugar acids