Chemicals production by engineered microorganisms often requires induction of target gene expression at an appropriate cell density to reduce conflict with cell growth. The lux system in Vibrio fischeri is a well-characterized model for cell density-dependent regulation of gene expression termed quorum sensing (QS). However, there are currently no reports for application of the lux system to microbial chemical production. Here, we constructed a synthetic lux system as a tunable cell density sensor-regulator using a synthetic lux promoter and a positive feedback loop in Escherichia coli. In this system, self-induction of a target gene expression is driven by QS-signal, and its threshold cell density can be changed depending on the concentration of a chemical inducer. We demonstrate auto-redirection of metabolic flux from central metabolic pathways toward a synthetic isopropanol pathway at a desired cell density resulting in a significant increase in isopropanol production.
Keywords: Metabolic engineering; Metabolic flux redirection; Quorum sensing; Synthetic genetic circuit; Synthetic metabolic pathway; lux system.
Copyright © 2015 International Metabolic Engineering Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.