Regulated redirection of central carbon flux enhances anaerobic production of bioproducts in Zymomonas mobilis

Metab Eng. 2020 Sep:61:261-274. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2020.06.005. Epub 2020 Jun 23.


The microbial production of chemicals and fuels from plant biomass offers a sustainable alternative to fossilized carbon but requires high rates and yields of bioproduct synthesis. Z. mobilis is a promising chassis microbe due to its high glycolytic rate in anaerobic conditions that are favorable for large-scale production. However, diverting flux from its robust ethanol fermentation pathway to nonnative pathways remains a major engineering hurdle. To enable controlled, high-yield synthesis of bioproducts, we implemented a central-carbon metabolism control-valve strategy using regulated, ectopic expression of pyruvate decarboxylase (Pdc) and deletion of chromosomal pdc. Metabolomic and genetic analyses revealed that glycolytic intermediates and NADH accumulate when Pdc is depleted and that Pdc is essential for anaerobic growth of Z. mobilis. Aerobically, all flux can be redirected to a 2,3-butanediol pathway for which respiration maintains redox balance. Anaerobically, flux can be redirected to redox-balanced lactate or isobutanol pathways with ≥65% overall yield from glucose. This strategy provides a promising path for future metabolic engineering of Z. mobilis.

Keywords: Biofuel; Isobutanol; Lactic acid; Metabolic engineering; Pyruvate; Pyruvate decarboxylase; Redox.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Butanols / metabolism*
  • Butylene Glycols / metabolism*
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Glucose / genetics
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Microorganisms, Genetically-Modified* / genetics
  • Microorganisms, Genetically-Modified* / metabolism
  • Zymomonas* / genetics
  • Zymomonas* / metabolism


  • Butanols
  • Butylene Glycols
  • 2,3-butylene glycol
  • isobutyl alcohol
  • Carbon
  • Glucose