Use of inducible feedback-resistant N-acetylglutamate synthetase (argA) genes for enhanced arginine biosynthesis by genetically engineered Escherichia coli K-12 strains

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 May;64(5):1805-11. doi: 10.1128/AEM.64.5.1805-1811.1998.


The goal of this work was to construct Escherichia coli strains capable of enhanced arginine production. The arginine biosynthetic capacity of previously engineered E. coli strains with a derepressed arginine regulon was limited by the availability of endogenous ornithine (M. Tuchman, B. S. Rajagopal, M. T. McCann, and M. H. Malamy, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63:33-38, 1997). Ornithine biosynthesis is limited due to feedback inhibition by arginine of N-acetylglutamate synthetase (NAGS), the product of the argA gene and the first enzyme in the pathway of arginine biosynthesis in E. coli. To circumvent this inhibition, the argA genes from E. coli mutants with feedback-resistant (fbr) NAGS were cloned into plasmids that contain "arg boxes," which titrate the ArgR repressor protein, with or without the E. coli carAB genes encoding carbamyl phosphate synthetase and the argI gene for ornithine transcarbamylase. The free arginine production rates of "arg-derepressed" E. coli cells overexpressing plasmid-encoded carAB, argI, and fbr argA genes were 3- to 15-fold higher than that of an equivalent system overexpressing feedback-sensitive wild-type (wt) argA. The expression system with fbr argA produced 7- to 35-fold more arginine than a system overexpressing carAB and argI genes on a plasmid in a strain with a wt argA gene on the chromosome. The arginine biosynthetic capacity of arg-derepressed DH5 alpha strains with plasmids containing only the fbr argA gene was similar to that of cells with plasmids also containing the carAB and argI genes. Plasmids containing wt or fbr argA were stably maintained under normal growth conditions for at least 18 generations. DNA sequencing identified different point mutations in each of the fbr argA mutants, specifically H15Y, Y19C, S54N, R58H, G287S, and Q432R.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / chemistry
  • Acetyltransferases / genetics*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino-Acid N-Acetyltransferase
  • Arginine / biosynthesis*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Feedback
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation


  • Arginine
  • Acetyltransferases
  • Amino-Acid N-Acetyltransferase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF008115
  • GENBANK/AF008116
  • GENBANK/AF008117
  • GENBANK/AF008118
  • GENBANK/AF008119