Engineered bacterium produces 1,3-diaminopropane, an important industrial chemical

August 11, 2015, The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Metabolic engineering strategies for 1,3-diaminopropane production using C4 pathway. Credit: KAIST

A Korean research team led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) reported, for the first time, the production of 1,3-diaminopropane via fermentation of an engineered bacterium.

1,3-Diaminopropane is a three carbon diamine, which has a wide range of industrial applications including epoxy resin and cross-linking agents, as well as precursors for pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and organic chemicals. It can also be polymerized with dicarboxylic acids to make polyamides (nylons) for use as engineering plastics, medical materials, and adhesives. Traditionally, 1,3-diaminopropane is derived from petroleum-based processes. In effort to address critical problems such as the depletion of petroleum and environmental issues inherent to the petroleum-based processes, the research team has developed an Escherichia coli (E. coli) strain capable of producing 1,3-diaminopropane. Using this technology, 1,3-diaminopropane can now be produced from renewable biomass instead of petroleum.

E. coli as found in nature is unable to produce 1,3-diaminopropane. Metabolic engineering, a technology to transform microorganisms into highly efficient capable of producing chemical compounds of interest, was utilized to engineer the E. coli strain. First, naturally existing for the biosynthesis of 1,3-diaminopropane were introduced into a virtual cell in silico to determine the most efficient metabolic pathway for the 1,3-diaminopropane production. The metabolic pathway selected was then introduced into an E. coli strain and successfully produced 1,3-diaminopropane for the first time in the world.

The research team applied additionally, and the production titer of 1,3-diaminopropane increased about 21 fold. The Fed-batch fermentation of the engineered E. coli strain produced 13 grams per liter of 1,3-diaminoproapne. With this technology, 1,3-diaminopropane can be produced using , and it will be the starting point for replacing the current petroleum-based processes with bio-based processes.

Fed-batch fermentation profiles of two final engineered E. coli strains. Credit: KAIST

Professor Lee said, "Our study suggested a possibility to produce 1,3-diaminopropane based on biorefinery. Further study will be done to increase the titer and productivity of 1,3-diaminopropane."

Explore further: Metabolically engineered E. coli producing phenol

More information: Chae, T.U. et al. "Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the production of 1,3-diaminopropane, a three carbon diamine," Scientific Reports: www.nature.com/articles/srep13040

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