Accumulation of xylitol in xylose fermentation with engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae presents a major problem that hampers economically feasible production of biofuels from cellulosic plant biomass. In particular, substantial production of xylitol due to unbalanced redox cofactor usage by xylose reductase (XR) and xylitol dehydrogenase (XDH) leads to low yields of ethanol. While previous research focused on manipulating intracellular enzymatic reactions to improve xylose metabolism, this study demonstrated a new strategy to reduce xylitol formation and increase carbon flux toward target products by controlling the process of xylitol secretion. Using xylitol-producing S. cerevisiae strains expressing XR only, we determined the role of aquaglyceroporin Fps1p in xylitol export by characterizing extracellular and intracellular xylitol. In addition, when FPS1 was deleted in a poorly xylose-fermenting strain with unbalanced XR and XDH activities, the xylitol yield was decreased by 71% and the ethanol yield was substantially increased by nearly four times. Experiments with our optimized xylose-fermenting strain also showed that FPS1 deletion reduced xylitol production by 21% to 30% and increased ethanol yields by 3% to 10% under various fermentation conditions. Deletion of FPS1 decreased the xylose consumption rate under anaerobic conditions, but the effect was not significant in fermentation at high cell density. Deletion of FPS1 resulted in higher intracellular xylitol concentrations but did not significantly change the intracellular NAD+/NADH ratio in xylose-fermenting strains. The results demonstrate that Fps1p is involved in xylitol export in S. cerevisiae and present a new gene deletion target, FPS1, and a mechanism different from those previously reported to engineer yeast for improved xylose fermentation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology