Background: Pterostilbene, a structural analog of resveratrol, has higher oral bioavailability and bioactivity than that of the parent compound; but is far less abundant in natural sources. Thus, to efficiently obtain this bioactive resveratrol analog, it is necessary to develop new bioproduction systems.
Results: We identified a resveratrol O-methyltransferase (ROMT) function from a multifunctional caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (COMT) originating from Arabidopsis, which catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group to resveratrol resulting in pterostilbene production. In addition, we constructed a biological platform to produce pterostilbene with this ROMT gene. Pterostilbene can be synthesized from intracellular L-tyrosine, which requires the activities of four enzymes: tyrosine ammonia lyase (TAL), p-coumarate:CoA ligase (CCL), stilbene synthase (STS) and resveratrol O-methyltransferase (ROMT). For the efficient production of pterostilbene in E. coli, we used an engineered E. coli strain to increase the intracellular pool of L-tyrosine, which is the initial precursor of pterostilbene. Next, we tried to produce pterostilbene in the engineered E. coli strain using L-methionine containing media, which is used to increase the intracellular pool of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM). According to this result, pterostilbene production as high as 33.6 ± 4.1 mg/L was achieved, which was about 3.6-fold higher compared with that in the parental E. coli strain harboring a plasmid for pterostilbene biosynthesis.
Conclusion: As a potential phytonutrient, pterostilbene was successfully produced in E. coli from a glucose medium using a single vector system, and its production titer was also significantly increased using a L-methionine containing medium in combination with a strain that had an engineered metabolic pathway for L-tyrosine. Additionally, we provide insights into the dual functions of COMT from A. thaliana which was characterized as a ROMT enzyme.
Keywords: De novo biosynthesis; Pterostilbene; Resveratrol O-methyltransferase.