Production of biofuels and chemicals from xylose using native and engineered yeast strains

Suryang Kwak, Jung Hyun Jo, Eun Ju Yun, Yong Su Jin, Jin Ho Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Numerous metabolic engineering strategies have allowed yeasts to efficiently assimilate xylose, the second most abundant sugar component of lignocellulosic biomass. During the investigation of xylose utilization by yeasts, a global rewiring of metabolic networks upon xylose cultivation has been captured, as opposed to a pattern of glucose repression. A clear understanding of the xylose-induced metabolic reprogramming in yeast would shed light on the optimization of yeast-based bioprocesses to produce biofuels and chemicals using xylose. In this review, we delved into the characteristics of yeast xylose metabolism, and potential benefits of using xylose as a carbon source to produce various biochemicals with examples. Transcriptomic and metabolomic patterns of xylose-grown yeast cells were distinct from those on glucose—a conventional sugar of industrial biotechnology—and the gap might lead to opportunities to produce biochemicals efficiently. Indeed, limited glycolytic metabolic fluxes during xylose utilization could result in enhanced production of metabolites whose biosynthetic pathways compete for precursors with ethanol fermentation. Also, alleviation of glucose repression on cytosolic acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) synthesis, and respiratory energy metabolism during xylose utilization enhanced production of acetyl-CoA derivatives. Consideration of singular properties of xylose metabolism, such as redox cofactor imbalance between xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase, is necessary to maximize these positive xylose effects. This review argues the importance and benefits of xylose utilization as not only a way of expanding a substrate range, but also an effective environmental perturbation for the efficient production of advanced biofuels and chemicals in yeasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-283
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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