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Effect of expressing polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis genes (phbCAB) in Streptococcus zooepidemicus on production of lactic acid and hyaluronic acid

Abstract

Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been industrially produced using the gram-positive bacterium Streptococcus zooepidemicus. Large amount of lactic acid formation was one of the important factors that restricted cell growth and HA productivity and lowered the substrate to HA conversion efficiency in a fermentor. In this study, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) synthesis genes (phbCAB) of Ralstonia eutropha were cloned from the plasmid pBHR68 and were inserted into the plasmid pEU308, an expression vector for gram-positive bacteria. The plasmid was transformed into S. zooepidemicus by electroporation. β-Ketothiolase (PhbA), acetoacetyl-CoA reductase (PhbB), and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase (PhbC) activity assays were carried out to demonstrate the expression of these genes. The PhbA and PhbB activities were 3.13 and 1.23 U mg−1, respectively. No PhbC activities were detected. In shake flask studies, there was no obvious difference between the wild-type and recombinant S. zooepidemicus harboring phbCAB genes in terms of lactic acid and HA formation. However, in fermentor studies, the recombinant produced only 40 g L−1 lactic acid and 7.5 g L−1 HA, whereas the wild type produced 65 g L−1 lactic acid and 5.5 g L−1 HA. These results suggested that expression of phbCAB genes in S. zooepidemicus could help regulate HA production metabolism. Because the lactic acid formation in S. zooepidemicus was sensitive to cellular oxidation/reduction potential, it is proposed that the PHB synthesis pathway could act as a regulator to adjust the cellular oxidation/reduction potential. This is the first study demonstrating that PHA synthesis related to energy and carbon metabolism could be employed as a pathway to regulate other cellular metabolism and possibly to regulate the production of other metabolic products.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Professor A. Steinbüchel of the University of Muenster/Germany for the kind donation of plasmid pBHR68 and to Dr. R. Scott for providing the plasmid pEU308. Thanks are also extended to Drs. L.K. Nielsen and J.R. Scott for their advice on transformation of S. zooepidemicus.

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Correspondence to Guo-Qiang Chen.

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Zhang, J., Hao, N. & Chen, G. Effect of expressing polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis genes (phbCAB) in Streptococcus zooepidemicus on production of lactic acid and hyaluronic acid. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 71, 222–227 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-005-0164-x

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Keywords

  • Fermentation
  • Lactic Acid
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Recombinant Strain
  • Lactic Acid Production