Engineering sucrose metabolism in Pseudomonas putida highlights the importance of porins

Microb Biotechnol. 2020 Jan;13(1):97-106. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.13283. Epub 2018 May 28.


Using agricultural wastes as a substrate for biotechnological processes is of great interest in industrial biotechnology. A prerequisite for using these wastes is the ability of the industrially relevant microorganisms to metabolize the sugars present therein. Therefore, many metabolic engineering approaches are directed towards widening the substrate spectrum of the workhorses of industrial biotechnology like Escherichia coli, yeast or Pseudomonas putida. For instance, neither xylose or arabinose from cellulosic residues, nor sucrose, the main sugar in waste molasses, can be metabolized by most E. coli and P. putida wild types. We evaluated a new, so far uncharacterized gene cluster for sucrose metabolism from Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 and showed that it enables P. putida to grow on sucrose as the sole carbon and energy source. Even when integrated into the genome of P. putida, the resulting strain grew on sucrose at rates similar to the rate of the wild type on glucose - making it the fastest growing, plasmid-free P. putida strain known so far using sucrose as substrate. Next, we elucidated the role of the porin, an orthologue of the sucrose porin ScrY, in the gene cluster and found that in P. putida, a porin is needed for sucrose transport across the outer membrane. Consequently, native porins were not sufficient to allow unlimited growth on sucrose. Therefore, we concluded that the outer membrane can be a considerable barrier for substrate transport, depending on strain, genotype and culture conditions, all of which should be taken into account in metabolic engineering approaches. We additionally showed the potential of the engineered P. putida strains by growing them on molasses with efficiencies twice as high as obtained with the wild-type P. putida. This can be seen as a further step towards the production of low-value chemicals and biofuels with P. putida from alternative and more affordable substrates in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • Porins / genetics
  • Pseudomonas
  • Pseudomonas putida* / genetics
  • Sucrose


  • Porins
  • Sucrose

Supplementary concepts

  • Pseudomonas protegens

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EFK49434.1
  • GENBANK/EGI19556.1