Production of Fatty Acid-derived valuable chemicals in synthetic microbes

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2014 Dec 23;2:78. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2014.00078. eCollection 2014.


Fatty acid derivatives, such as hydroxy fatty acids, fatty alcohols, fatty acid methyl/ethyl esters, and fatty alka(e)nes, have a wide range of industrial applications including plastics, lubricants, and fuels. Currently, these chemicals are obtained mainly through chemical synthesis, which is complex and costly, and their availability from natural biological sources is extremely limited. Metabolic engineering of microorganisms has provided a platform for effective production of these valuable biochemicals. Notably, synthetic biology-based metabolic engineering strategies have been extensively applied to refactor microorganisms for improved biochemical production. Here, we reviewed: (i) the current status of metabolic engineering of microbes that produce fatty acid-derived valuable chemicals, and (ii) the recent progress of synthetic biology approaches that assist metabolic engineering, such as mRNA secondary structure engineering, sensor-regulator system, regulatable expression system, ultrasensitive input/output control system, and computer science-based design of complex gene circuits. Furthermore, key challenges and strategies were discussed. Finally, we concluded that synthetic biology provides useful metabolic engineering strategies for economically viable production of fatty acid-derived valuable chemicals in engineered microbes.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; biochemical production; fatty acid biosynthesis pathway; metabolic engineering; synthetic biology; yeast.

Publication types

  • Review