Recent Progress on Systems and Synthetic Biology Approaches to Engineer Fungi As Microbial Cell Factories

Curr Genomics. 2016 Apr;17(2):85-98. doi: 10.2174/1389202917666151116212255.


Filamentous fungi are remarkable organisms naturally specialized in deconstructing plant biomass and this feature has a tremendous potential for biofuel production from renewable sources. The past decades have been marked by a remarkable progress in the genetic engineering of fungi to generate industry-compatible strains needed for some biotech applications. In this sense, progress in this field has been marked by the utilization of high-throughput techniques to gain deep understanding of the molecular machinery controlling the physiology of these organisms, starting thus the Systems Biology era of fungi. Additionally, genetic engineering has been extensively applied to modify wellcharacterized promoters in order to construct new expression systems with enhanced performance under the conditions of interest. In this review, we discuss some aspects related to significant progress in the understating and engineering of fungi for biotechnological applications, with special focus on the construction of synthetic promoters and circuits in organisms relevant for industry. Different engineering approaches are shown, and their potential and limitations for the construction of complex synthetic circuits in these organisms are examined. Finally, we discuss the impact of engineered promoter architecture in the single-cell behavior of the system, an often-neglected relationship with a tremendous impact in the final performance of the process of interest. We expect to provide here some new directions to drive future research directed to the construction of high-performance, engineered fungal strains working as microbial cell factories.

Keywords: Fungal engineering; Regulatory networks; Synthetic biology; Synthetic promoters.; Systems biology.