Towards universal synthetic heterotrophy using a metabolic coordinator
Engineering the utilization of non-native substrates, or synthetic heterotrophy, in proven industrial microbes such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae represents an opportunity to valorize plentiful and renewable sources of carbon and energy as potential inputs to biotechnological processes. We previously demonstrated that activation of the galactose (GAL) regulon, a regulatory structure used by this yeast to coordinate substrate utilization with biomass formation during growth on galactose, during
... wth on the non-native substrate xylose results in a vastly altered gene expression profile and faster growth compared with constitutive overexpression of the same heterologous catabolic pathway. However, this effort involved the creation of a xylose-inducible variant of Gal3p (Gal3pSyn4.1), the sensor protein of the GAL regulon, preventing this semi-synthetic regulon approach from being easily adapted to additional non-native substrates. Here, we report the construction of a variant Gal3pMC (metabolic coordinator) that exhibits robust GAL regulon activation in the presence of structurally diverse substrates and recapitulates the dynamics of the native system. Multiple molecular modeling studies confirm that Gal3pMC occupies conformational states corresponding to galactose-bound Gal3p in an inducer-independent manner. Using Gal3pMC to test a regulon approach to the assimilation of the non-native lignocellulosic sugars xylose, arabinose, and cellobiose yields higher growth rates and final cell densities when compared with a constitutive overexpression of the same set of catabolic genes. The subsequent demonstration of rapid and complete co-utilization of all three non-native substrates suggests that Gal3pMC-mediated dynamic global gene expression changes by GAL regulon activation may be universally beneficial for engineering synthetic heterotrophy.