Stepwise genetic engineering of Pseudomonas putida enables robust heterologous production of prodigiosin and glidobactin A

Metab Eng. 2021 Jun 24;67:112-124. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2021.06.004. Online ahead of print.


Polyketide synthases (PKS) and nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) comprise biosynthetic pathways that provide access to diverse, often bioactive natural products. Metabolic engineering can improve production metrics to support characterization and drug-development studies, but often native hosts are difficult to genetically manipulate and/or culture. For this reason, heterologous expression is a common strategy for natural product discovery and characterization. Many bacteria have been developed to express heterologous biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) for producing polyketides and nonribosomal peptides. In this article, we describe tools for using Pseudomonas putida, a Gram-negative soil bacterium, as a heterologous host for producing natural products. Pseudomonads are known to produce many natural products, but P. putida production titers have been inconsistent in the literature and often low compared to other hosts. In recent years, synthetic biology tools for engineering P. putida have greatly improved, but their application towards production of natural products is limited. To demonstrate the potential of P. putida as a heterologous host, we introduced BGCs encoding the synthesis of prodigiosin and glidobactin A, two bioactive natural products synthesized from a combination of PKS and NRPS enzymology. Engineered strains exhibited robust production of both compounds after a single chromosomal integration of the corresponding BGC. Next, we took advantage of a set of genome-editing tools to increase titers by modifying transcription and translation of the BGCs and increasing the availability of auxiliary proteins required for PKS and NRPS activity. Lastly, we discovered genetic modifications to P. putida that affect natural product synthesis, including a strategy for removing a carbon sink that improves product titers. These efforts resulted in production strains capable of producing 1.1 g/L prodigiosin and 470 mg/L glidobactin A.

Keywords: Genome editing; Heterologous expression; Non-ribosomal peptide; Polyketide; Pseudomonas putida.