Redox cofactor engineering in industrial microorganisms: strategies, recent applications and future directions

  • Jiaheng Liu
  • Huiling Li
  • Guangrong Zhao
  • Qinggele Caiyin
  • Jianjun Qiao
Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology - Review


NAD and NADP, a pivotal class of cofactors, which function as essential electron donors or acceptors in all biological organisms, drive considerable catabolic and anabolic reactions. Furthermore, they play critical roles in maintaining intracellular redox homeostasis. However, many metabolic engineering efforts in industrial microorganisms towards modification or introduction of metabolic pathways, especially those involving consumption, generation or transformation of NAD/NADP, often induce fluctuations in redox state, which dramatically impede cellular metabolism, resulting in decreased growth performance and biosynthetic capacity. Here, we comprehensively review the cofactor engineering strategies for solving the problematic redox imbalance in metabolism modification, as well as their features, suitabilities and recent applications. Some representative examples of in vitro biocatalysis are also described. In addition, we briefly discuss how tools and methods from the field of synthetic biology can be applied for cofactor engineering. Finally, future directions and challenges for development of cofactor redox engineering are presented.


Cofactor engineering Redox balance Metabolic engineering Cofactor specificity Synthetic biology 



This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Project of China (2017YFD0201400), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31570089, 31170076), and the Funds for Creative Research Groups of China (21621004). Dr. Jianjun Qiao was supported by the New Century Outstanding Talent Support Program, Education Ministry of China.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiaheng Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Huiling Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guangrong Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Qinggele Caiyin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jianjun Qiao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Systems Bioengineering (Ministry of Education)Tianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Chemical Engineering and TechnologyTianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.SynBio Research Platform, Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin)TianjinPeople’s Republic of China

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