Methanol biotransformation to effectively create fatty alcohols

Methanol is a likely feedstock for biomanufacturing since it’s effectively obtained in a harmless way to the ecosystem. Due to the toxicity of methanol and its intricate cellular metabolism, however, creating a microbial cell factory for methanol-based bioproduction remains challenging.

By coupling peroxisomal metabolism, a group of researchers led by Prof. Zhou Yongjin from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently designed the yeast Ogataea polymorpha for the effective production of fatty alcohols from sole methanol.

On March 13, the research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This work presents a feasible engineering strategy for improving methanol biotransformation toward sustainable fatty alcohol production,”

Prof. Zhou Yongjin from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP).

In personal care products like soaps, shampoos, and creams, fatty alcohols are frequently used as detergents, emulsifiers, and emollients. Methanol production by microorganisms could be an effective and long-lasting means of supplying fatty alcohols. Notwithstanding, because of the poisonousness of methanol and formaldehyde (the oxidative middle of methanol), the overproduction of greasy alcohols in microbial cell manufacturing plants is thwarted.

During the construction of the cytosolic biosynthesis pathway in the methylotrophic yeast Ogataea polymorpha, the researchers found impaired fatty alcohol production. By combining cellular metabolism and product biosynthesis, peroxisomal compartmentalization increased fatty alcohol production.

Additionally, high-level fatty alcohol production (up to 3.6 g/L) was made possible by the peroxisome’s expanding supply of precursors and cofactors.

Prof. Zhou stated, “This work provides a feasible engineering strategy to improve methanol biotransformation toward the sustainable production of fatty alcohols.”

More information: Xiaoxin Zhai et al, Peroxisomal metabolic coupling improves fatty alcohol production from sole methanol in yeast, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2220816120

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