Improving the production of 9α-hydroxy-4-androstene-3,17-dione from phytosterols by 3-ketosteroid-Δ1-dehydrogenase deletions and multiple genetic modifications in Mycobacterium fortuitum

Microb Cell Fact. 2023 Mar 16;22(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s12934-023-02052-y.


BACKGROUND: 9α-hydroxyandrost-4-ene-3,17-dione (9-OHAD) is a significant intermediate for the synthesis of glucocorticoid drugs. However, in the process of phytosterol biotransformation to manufacture 9-OHAD, product degradation, and by-products restrict 9-OHAD output. In this study, to construct a stable and high-yield 9-OHAD producer, we investigated a combined strategy of blocking Δ1‑dehydrogenation and regulating metabolic flux.

RESULTS: Five 3-Ketosteroid-Δ1-dehydrogenases (KstD) were identified in Mycobacterium fortuitum ATCC 35855. KstD2 showed the highest catalytic activity on 3-ketosteroids, followed by KstD3, KstD1, KstD4, and KstD5, respectively. In particular, KstD2 had a much higher catalytic activity for C9 hydroxylated steroids than for C9 non-hydroxylated steroids, whereas KstD3 showed the opposite characteristics. The deletion of kstDs indicated that KstD2 and KstD3 were the main causes of 9-OHAD degradation. Compared with the wild type M. fortuitum ATCC 35855, MFΔkstD, the five kstDs deficient strain, realized stable accumulation of 9-OHAD, and its yield increased by 42.57%. The knockout of opccr or the overexpression of hsd4A alone could not reduce the metabolic flux of the C22 pathway, while the overexpression of hsd4A based on the knockout of opccr in MFΔkstD could remarkably reduce the contents of 9,21 ‑dihydroxy‑20‑methyl‑pregna‑4‑en‑3‑one (9-OHHP) by-products. The inactivation of FadE28-29 leads to a large accumulation of incomplete side-chain degradation products. Therefore, hsd4A and fadE28-29 were co-expressed in MFΔkstDΔopccr successfully eliminating the two by-products. Compared with MFΔkstD, the purity of 9-OHAD improved from 80.24 to 90.14%. Ultimately, 9‑OHAD production reached 12.21 g/L (83.74% molar yield) and the productivity of 9-OHAD was 0.0927 g/L/h from 20 g/L phytosterol.

CONCLUSIONS: KstD2 and KstD3 are the main dehydrogenases that lead to 9-OHAD degradation. Hsd4A and Opccr are key enzymes regulating the metabolic flux of the C19- and C22-pathways. Overexpression of fadE28-29 can reduce the accumulation of incomplete degradation products of the side chains. According to the above findings, the MF-FA5020 transformant was successfully constructed to rapidly and stably accumulate 9-OHAD from phytosterols. These results contribute to the understanding of the diversity and complexity of steroid catabolism regulation in actinobacteria and provide a theoretical basis for further optimizing industrial microbial catalysts.

PMID:36922830 | PMC:PMC10018825 | DOI:10.1186/s12934-023-02052-y


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