Optimization of the production of methyl ethyl ketone in recombinant Pseudomonas putida using large-scale kinetic models

The production of second generation of biofuels by conversion of inexpensive feedstocks is a basis for future bio-sustainable economy. Among many proposed molecules, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) emerged as one of the most prominent fuel candidates due to its high-energy density, low emissions, and good transport properties. There is no known natural producer of MEK, but there were some recent studies to express its production pathway in different organisms. In all of these attempts, reported yields were very low. Among industrial workhorses such as E. coli and S. cerevisiae, P. putida has emerged as one of the most promising biofuel production hosts due to its tolerance to high toxicity compounds. For instance, it is reported that P. putida can grow in the presence of high concentrations of butanol1. This highly adaptive bacterium has been found to survive and grow on a broad range of substrates from pure caffeine to toxic industrial waste. In this study, we used the ORACLE framework to build, for the first time, a population of large-scale kinetic models of recombinant P. putida producing MEK. ORACLE2,3 (Optimization and Risk Analysis of Complex Living Entities) is a suite of computational tools capable of identifying enzymes with the highest impact on the production of target molecules. We started by embedding the MEK production pathway in the genome-scale model iJN7464 of P. putida, and then we derived a consistently reduced stoichiometric model. The obtained core model consists of 302 reactions and 210 mass balances distributed over cytosol, periplasm and extracellular environment. We then performed a series of tests to verify the consistency of the core model with its genome-scale counterpart. We next integrated fluxomics and metabolomics data from experiments and literature and performed Thermodynamic-Based Flux Analysis (TFA) to compute the thermodynamically feasible flux profiles that are consistent with the observed data. We further integrated the available information about the kinetic properties of enzymes involved in the modeled metabolic network. For reactions with missing or incomplete information about kinetic parameters, we performed a Monte Carlo sampling to generate missing information. We then constructed a population of 250’000 models, and we used these models to simultaneously optimize specific productivity of MEK and yield of MEK from glucose as a sole carbon source while taking into consideration the metabolic parameters such as catabolic and anabolic reduction charges. This way, we were able to identify enzymes that are potential candidates for metabolic engineering strategies towards obtaining a P. putida strain with improved specific productivity of MEK and its yield from glucose. This work demonstrates the potential and usefulness of ORACLE for optimizing production of biofuels and biochemicals in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology applications. 1. Rühl, J., Schmid, A. & Blank, L. M. Selected Pseudomonas putida strains able to grow in the presence of high butanol concentrations. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 75, 4653–6 (2009). 2. Miskovic, L. & Hatzimanikatis, V. Production of biofuels and biochemicals: in need of an ORACLE. Trends in biotechnology 28, 391–7 (2010). 3. Chakrabarti, A., Miskovic, L., Soh, K. C. & Hatzimanikatis, V. Towards kinetic modeling of genome-scale metabolic networks without sacrificing stoichiometric, thermodynamic and physiological constraints. Biotechnol. J. 8, 1043–57 (2013). 4. Nogales, J., Palsson, B. Ø. & Thiele, I. A genome-scale metabolic reconstruction of Pseudomonas putida KT2440: iJN746 as a cell factory. BMC Syst. Biol. 2, 79 (2008).


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