Background: Acetoin is an important bio-based platform chemical. However, it is usually existed as a minor byproduct of 2,3-butanediol fermentation in bacteria.
Results: The present study reports introducing an exogenous NAD+ regeneration sysytem into a 2,3-butanediol producing strain Klebsiella pneumoniae to increse the accumulation of acetoin. Batch fermentation suggested that heterologous expression of the NADH oxidase in K. pneumoniae resulted in large decreases in the intracellular NADH concentration (1.4 fold) and NADH/NAD+ ratio (2.0 fold). Metabolic flux analysis revealed that fluxes to acetoin and acetic acid were enhanced, whereas, production of lactic acid and ethanol were decreased, with the accumualation of 2,3-butanediol nearly unaltered. By fed-batch culture of the recombinant, the highest reported acetoin production level (25.9 g/L) by Klebsiella species was obtained.
Conclusions: The present study indicates that microbial production of acetoin could be improved by decreasing the intracellular NADH/NAD+ ratio in K. pneumoniae. It demonstrated that the cofactor engineering method, which is by manipulating the level of intracellular cofactors to redirect cellular metabolism, could be employed to achieve a high efficiency of producing the NAD+-dependent microbial metabolite.