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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Toward a glycyl radical enzyme containing synthetic bacterial microcompartment to produce pyruvate from formate and acetate


Formate has great potential to function as a feedstock for biorefineries because it can be sustainably produced by a variety of processes that don't compete with agricultural production. However, naturally formatotrophic organisms are unsuitable for large-scale cultivation, difficult to engineer, or have inefficient native formate assimilation pathways. Thus, metabolic engineering needs to be developed for model industrial organisms to enable efficient formatotrophic growth. Here, we build a prototype synthetic formate utilizing bacterial microcompartment (sFUT) encapsulating the oxygen-sensitive glycyl radical enzyme pyruvate formate lyase and a phosphate acyltransferase to convert formate and acetyl-phosphate into the central biosynthetic intermediate pyruvate. This metabolic module offers a defined environment with a private cofactor coenzyme A that can cycle efficiently between the encapsulated enzymes. To facilitate initial design-build-test-refine cycles to construct an active metabolic core, we used a "wiffleball" architecture, defined as an icosahedral bacterial microcompartment (BMC) shell with unoccupied pentameric vertices to freely permit substrate and product exchange. The resulting sFUT prototype wiffleball is an active multi enzyme synthetic BMC functioning as platform technology.

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