Gene amplification on demand accelerates cellobiose utilization in engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Eun Joong Oh, Jeffrey M. Skerker, Soo Rin Kim, Na Wei, Timothy L. Turner, Matthew J. Maurer, Adam P. Arkin, Yong Su Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Efficient microbial utilization of cellulosic sugars is essential for the economic production of biofuels and chemicals. Although the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a robust microbial platform widely used in ethanol plants using sugar cane and corn starch in large-scale operations, glucose repression is one of the significant barriers to the efficient fermentation of cellulosic sugar mixtures. A recent study demonstrated that intracellular utilization of cellobiose by engineered yeast expressing a cellobiose transporter (encoded by cdt-1) and an intracellular β-glucosidase (encoded by gh1-1) can alleviate glucose repression, resulting in the simultaneous cofermentation of cellobiose and nonglucose sugars. Here we report enhanced cellobiose fermentation by engineered yeast expressing cdt-1 and gh1-1 through laboratory evolution. When cdt-1 and gh1-1 were integrated into the genome of yeast, the single copy integrant showed a low cellobiose consumption rate. However, cellobiose fermentation rates by engineered yeast increased gradually during serial subcultures on cellobiose. Finally, an evolved strain exhibited a 15-fold-higher cellobiose fermentation rate. To identify the responsible mutations in the evolved strain, genome sequencing was performed. Interestingly, no mutations affecting cellobiose fermentation were identified, but the evolved strain contained 9 copies of cdt-1 and 23 copies of gh1-1. We also traced the copy numbers of cdt-1 and gh1-1 of mixed populations during the serial subcultures. The copy numbers of cdt-1 and gh1-1 in the cultures increased gradually with similar ratios as cellobiose fermentation rates of the cultures increased. These results suggest that the cellobiose assimilation pathway (transport and hydrolysis) might be a rate-limiting step in engineered yeast and copies of genes coding for metabolic enzymes might be amplified in yeast if there is a growth advantage. This study indicates that on-demand gene amplification might be an efficient strategy for yeast metabolic engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3631-3639
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Gene amplification on demand accelerates cellobiose utilization in engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this