Development of a gene knockout system using mobile group II introns (Targetron) and genetic disruption of acid production pathways in Clostridium beijerinckii

Yi Wang, Xiangzhen Li, Caroline B. Milne, Holger Janssen, Weiyin Lin, Gloria Phan, Huiying Hu, Yong Su Jin, Nathan D. Price, Hans P. Blaschek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clostridium beijerinckii is a well-known solvent-producing microorganism with great potential for biofuel and biochemical production. To better understand and improve the biochemicalpathway to solvents, the development of genetic tools for engineering C. beijerinckii is highly desired. Based on mobile group II intron technology, a targetron gene knockout system was developed for C. beijerinckii in this study. This system was successfully employed to disrupt acid production pathways in C. beijerinckii, leading to pta (encoding phosphotransacetylase)- and buk (encoding butyrate kinase)-negative mutants. In addition to experimental characterization, the mutant phenotypes were analyzed in the context of our C. beijerinckii genome-scale model. Compared to those of the parental strain (C. beijerinckii 8052), acetate production in thepta mutant was substantially reduced and butyrate production was remarkably increased, while solvent production was dependent on the growth medium. The pta mutant also produced much higherlevels of lactate, suggesting that disrupting pta influenced the energy generation and electro flow pathways. In contrast, acetate and butyrate production in the buk mutant was generally similar to that of the wild type, but solvent production was consistently 20 to 30% higher and glucose consumption was more rapid and complete. Our results suggest that the acid and solvent production of C. beijerinckii can be effectively altered by disrupting the acid production pathways. As the gene disruption method developed in this study does not leave any antibiotic marker in a disrupted allele, multiple and high-throughput gene disruption is feasible for elucidating genotype and phenotype relationships in C. beijerinckii.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5853-5863
Number of pages11
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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