Whole cell biosynthesis of a functional oligosaccharide, 2'-fucosyllactose, using engineered Escherichia coli.

Won Heong Lee, Panchalee Pathanibul, Josh Quarterman, Jung Hyun Jo, Nam Soo Han, Michael J. Miller, Yong Su Jin, Jin Ho Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: 2' -Fucosyllactose (2-FL) is a functional oligosaccharide present in human milk which protects against the infection of enteric pathogens. Because 2-FL can be synthesized through the enzymatic fucosylation of lactose with guanosine 5' -diphosphate (GDP)-L-fucose by alpha-1,2 fucosyltransferase (FucT2), an 2-FL producing Escherichia coli can be constructed through overexpressing genes coding for endogenous GDP-L-fucose biosynthetic enzymes and heterologous fucosyltransferase. Results: The gene for FucT2 from Helicobacter pylori was introduced to the GDP-L-fucose producing recombinant E. coli BL21 star(DE3) strain. However, only small amount of 2-FL was produced in a batch fermentation because the E. coli BL21star(DE3) strain assimilated lactose instead of converting to 2-FL. As an alternative host, the E. coli JM109(DE3) strain which is incapable of assimilating lactose was chosen as a 2-FL producer. Whole cell biosynthesis of 2-FL from lactose was investigated in a series of batch fermentations using various concentrations of lactose. The results of batch fermentations showed that lactose was slowly assimilated by the engineered E. coli JM109(DE3) strain and 2-FL was synthesized without supplementation of another auxiliary sugar for cell growth. A maximum 2-FL concentration of 1.23 g/l was obtained from a batch fermentation with 14.5 g/l lactose. The experimentally obtained yield (g 2-FL/g lactose) corresponded to 20% of the theoretical maximum yield estimated by the elementary flux mode (EFM) analysis. Conclusions: The experimental 2-FL yield in this study corresponded to about 20% of the theoretical maximum yield, which suggests further modifications via metabolic engineering of a host strain or optimization of fermentation processes might be carried out for improving 2-FL yield. Improvement of microbial production of 2-FL from lactose by engineered E. coli would increase the feasibility of utilizing 2-FL as a prebiotic in various foods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMicrobial cell factories
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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