Increased Accumulation of Squalene in Engineered Yarrowia lipolytica through Deletion of PEX10 and URE2

Liu Jing Wei, Xuan Cao, Jing Jing Liu, Suryang Kwak, Yong Su Jin, Wei Wang, Qiang Hua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Squalene is a triterpenoid serving as an ingredient of various products in the food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical industries. The oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica offers enormous potential as a microbial chassis for the production of terpenoids, such as carotenoid, limonene, linalool, and farnesene, as the yeast provides ample storage space for hydrophobic products. Here, we present a metabolic design that allows the enhanced accumulation of squalene in Y. lipolytica. First, we improved squalene accumulation in Y. lipolytica by overexpressing the genes (ERG and HMG) coding for the mevalonate pathway enzymes. Second, we increased the production of lipid where squalene is accumulated by overexpressing DGA1 (encoding diacylglycerol acyltransferase) and deleting PEX10 (for peroxisomal membrane E3 ubiquitin ligase). Third, we deleted URE2 (coding for a transcriptional regulator in charge of nitrogen catabolite repression [NCR]) to induce lipid accumulation regardless of the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in culture media. The resulting engineered Y. lipolytica exhibited a 115-fold higher squalene content (22.0 mg/g dry cell weight) than the parental strain. These results suggest that the biological function of Ure2p in Y. lipolytica is similar to that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and its deletion can be utilized to enhance the production of hydrophobic target products in oleaginous yeast strains. IMPORTANCE This study demonstrated a novel strategy for increasing squalene production in Y. lipolytica. URE2, a bifunctional protein that is involved in both nitrogen catabolite repression and oxidative stress response, was identified and demonstrated correlation to squalene production. The data suggest that double deletion of PEX10 and URE2 can serve as a positive synergistic effect to help yeast cells in boosting squalene production. This discovery can be combined with other strategies to engineer cell factories to efficiently produce terpenoid in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e0048121
Number of pages14
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Aug 11 2021


  • lipid aggregation
  • MVA pathway
  • squalene
  • Yarrowia lipolytica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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