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DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.21.541164

Optimizing the balance between heterologous acetate- and CO2-reduction pathways in anaerobic cultures of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains engineered for low glycerol production

A. C. A.van Aalst E. Geraats M. L. A. Jansen R. Mans J. T. Pronk
In anaerobic Saccharomyces cerevisiae cultures, NADH-cofactor balancing by glycerol formation constrains ethanol yields. Introduction of an acetate-to-ethanol reduction pathway based on heterologous acetylating acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (A-ALD) can replace glycerol formation as redox-sink and improve ethanol yields in acetate-containing media. Acetate concentrations in feedstock for first-generation bioethanol production are, however, insufficient to completely replace glycerol formation. An alternative glycerol-reduction strategy bypasses the oxidative reaction in glycolysis by introducing phosphoribulokinase (PRK) and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBisCO). For optimal performance in industrial settings, yeast strains should ideally first fully convert acetate and, subsequently, continue low-glycerol fermentation via the PRK-RuBisCO pathway. However, anaerobic batch cultures of a strain carrying both pathways showed inferior acetate reduction relative to a strain expressing only the A-ALD pathway. Complete A-ALD-mediated acetate reduction by a dual-pathway strain, grown anaerobically on 50 g L-1 glucose and 5 mmol L-1 acetate, was achieved upon reducing PRK abundance by a C-terminal extension of its amino-acid sequence. Yields of glycerol and ethanol on glucose were 55% lower and 6% higher, respectively, than those of a non-engineered reference strain. The negative impact of the PRK-RuBisCO pathway on acetate reduction was attributed to sensitivity of the reversible A-ALD reaction to intracellular acetaldehyde concentrations.