Multi-dimensional gene target search for improving lycopene biosynthesis in Escherichia coli

Yong Su Jin, Gregory Stephanopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identification of multiple gene targets that exhibit different modes of action toward a desired phenotype is a crucial step in strain improvement. Target identification methods based on traceable genetic perturbations and stoichiometric modeling have been employed before for the mining of putative overexpression and knock-out targets. Most search methods are sequential and, as such, quite limited in the space they can explore. In this study, we investigate a multi-dimensional search approach whereby unknown interactions of gene targets identified by different search methods are assessed by employing orthogonal search strategies. To this end, we combined knock-out and overexpression gene targets, identified through systematic and combinatorial approaches, respectively, in order to improve lycopene production in Escherichia coli. Specifically, we first identified multiple overexpression targets by screening genomic libraries of E. coli in a sequential-iterative manner. Targets so identified confirmed previously amplified genes in the non-mevalonate pathway (dxs and idi) and some regulatory genes (rpoS and appY). Additionally, this method revealed novel gene targets (yjiD, ycgW, yhbL, purDH, and yggT). A two-dimensional search was subsequently undertaken, whereby the selected overexpression targets were combined with the knock-out targets predicted by stoichiometric modeling. All combinations of single (rpoS, appY, yjiD, ycgW, and yhbL), double (yjiD-ycgW) and triple (yjiD-ycgW-yhbL) overexpressions with four gene deletion backgrounds, including single (ΔgdhA, or ΔaceE), double (ΔgdhAΔaceE), and triple (ΔgdhAΔaceEΔfdhF) knockouts, were constructed and evaluated for lycopene production. Investigation of the metabolic landscape spanned by these 40 strains identified the best-engineered strain (T5P-dxs, T5P-idi, rrnBP-yjiD-ycgW, ΔgdhΔaceEΔfdhF, pACLYC), which accumulated 16,000 ppm (16 mg/g cell) of lycopene within 24 h in a batch shake flask with 5 g/L of glucose in M9 minimal medium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-347
Number of pages11
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Combinational search
  • Gene targeting
  • Lycopene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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