Machine Learning-Supported Enzyme Engineering toward Improved CO2-Fixation of Glycolyl-CoA Carboxylase

ACS Synth Biol. 2023 Dec 15;12(12):3521-3530. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.3c00403. Epub 2023 Nov 20.


Glycolyl-CoA carboxylase (GCC) is a new-to-nature enzyme that catalyzes the key reaction in the tartronyl-CoA (TaCo) pathway, a synthetic photorespiration bypass that was recently designed to improve photosynthetic CO2 fixation. GCC was created from propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC) through five mutations. However, despite reaching activities of naturally evolved biotin-dependent carboxylases, the quintuple substitution variant GCC M5 still lags behind 4-fold in catalytic efficiency compared to its template PCC and suffers from futile ATP hydrolysis during CO2 fixation. To further improve upon GCC M5, we developed a machine learning-supported workflow that reduces screening efforts for identifying improved enzymes. Using this workflow, we present two novel GCC variants with 2-fold increased carboxylation rate and 60% reduced energy demand, respectively, which are able to address kinetic and thermodynamic limitations of the TaCo pathway. Our work highlights the potential of combining machine learning and directed evolution strategies to reduce screening efforts in enzyme engineering.

Keywords: CO2 fixation; directed evolution; enzyme engineering; glycolyl-CoA carboxylase; machine learning; photorespiration.

MeSH terms

  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase / genetics
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide* / metabolism
  • Carboxy-Lyases* / metabolism
  • Methylmalonyl-CoA Decarboxylase


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carboxy-Lyases
  • Methylmalonyl-CoA Decarboxylase
  • Biotin
  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase