From a Hetero- to a Methylotrophic Lifestyle: Flash Back on the Engineering Strategies to Create Synthetic Methanol-User Strains

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2022 Jun 8;10:907861. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2022.907861. eCollection 2022.


Engineering microorganisms to grow on alternative feedstocks is crucial not just because of the indisputable biotechnological applications but also to deepen our understanding of microbial metabolism. One-carbon (C1) substrate metabolism has been the focus of extensive research for the prominent role of C1 compounds in establishing a circular bioeconomy. Methanol in particular holds great promise as it can be produced directly from greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide using renewable resources. Synthetic methylotrophy, i.e. introducing a non-native methanol utilization pathway into a model host, has therefore been the focus of long-time efforts and is perhaps the pinnacle of metabolic engineering. It entails completely changing a microorganism’s lifestyle, from breaking up multi-carbon nutrients for growth to building C-C bonds from a single-carbon molecule to obtain all metabolites necessary to biomass formation as well as energy. The frontiers of synthetic methylotrophy have been pushed further than ever before and in this review, we outline the advances that paved the way for the more recent accomplishments. These include optimizing the host’s metabolism, “copy and pasting” naturally existing methylotrophic pathways, “mixing and matching” enzymes to build new pathways, and even creating novel enzymatic functions to obtain strains that are able to grow solely on methanol. Finally, new approaches are contemplated to further advance the field and succeed in obtaining a strain that efficiently grows on methanol and allows C1-based production of added-value compounds.

PMID:35757790 | PMC:PMC9214030 | DOI:10.3389/fbioe.2022.907861


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