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Microbial Production of Vitamin B 12: A Review and Future Perspectives


Microbial Production of Vitamin B 12: A Review and Future Perspectives

Huan Fang et al. Microb Cell Fact.


Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that is widely used in medical and food industries. Vitamin B12 biosynthesis is confined to few bacteria and archaea, and as such its production relies on microbial fermentation. Rational strain engineering is dependent on efficient genetic tools and a detailed knowledge of metabolic pathways, regulation of which can be applied to improve product yield. Recent advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering have been used to efficiently construct many microbial chemical factories. Many published reviews have probed the vitamin B12 biosynthetic pathway. To maximize the potential of microbes for vitamin B12 production, new strategies and tools are required. In this review, we provide a comprehensive understanding of advances in the microbial production of vitamin B12, with a particular focus on establishing a heterologous host for the vitamin B12 production, as well as on strategies and tools that have been applied to increase microbial cobalamin production. Several worthy strategies employed for other products are also included.

Keywords: Biosynthesis; Escherichia coli; Metabolic engineering; Metabolic regulation; Synthetic biology; Vitamin B12.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Biosynthetic pathways of tetrapyrrole compounds. ALA is synthesized by either the C4 or the C5 pathway. Adenosylcobalamin is synthesized via the de novo or via salvage pathways. The enzymes shown in the adenosylcobalamin biosynthetic pathway originate from P. denitrificans or S. typhimurium, which either use the aerobic pathway or the anaerobic pathway, respectively
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Design of a heterologous biosynthetic pathway. a A host for the heterologous biosynthetic pathway is selected considering the capability of precursor and cofactor supply, genetic engineering tools, and industrial-scale fermentation capability, utilizing cheap and readily available carbon sources. b Enzyme activity is verified in vitro and subsequently in vivo. Products of the in vitro assay or intracellular reaction products are detected via spectroscopic analysis, mass spectrometry, or microbiological assays. c Heterogeneous genes and other functional elements are assembled on plasmids via gene assembly methods such as SLIC, CPEC, Gibson, golden gate, DNA assembler and LCR, or integrated into the genome. To decrease the difficulty of building the metabolic pathway, it is divided into separate modules. These modules are verified sequentially in a heterologous host and then assembled. d Based on the quantification of metabolites, bottlenecks should be removed and metabolic flux should be integrated to target compound maximization. To optimize gene expression in the metabolic pathway, promoters, RBS, and gene copy number are designed and implemented at the transcriptional or translational levels. e The characteristics of the engineered strains are verified via fermentation. Various substrates (e.g., ALA, cobalt ions, betaine and DMB) and varying conditions (e.g., dissolved oxygen concentration, pH, and temperature) can be optimized to improve yield and productivity

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