A Novel Semi-biosynthetic Route for Artemisinin Production Using Engineered Substrate-Promiscuous P450BM3
Production of fine heterologus pathways in microbial hosts is frequently hindered by insufficient knowledge of the native metabolic pathway and its cognate enzymes; often the pathway is unresolved and enzymes lack detailed characterization. An alternative paradigm to using native pathways is de novo pathway design using well-characterized, substrate-promiscuous enzymes. We demonstrate this concept using P450BM3 from Bacillus megaterium. Using a computer model, we illustrate how key P450BM3 activ site mutations enable binding of non-native substrate amorphadiene, incorporating these mutations into P450BM3 enabled the selective oxidation of amorphadiene arteminsinic-11s,12-epoxide, at titers of 250 mg L"1 in E. coli. We also demonstrate high-yeilding, selective transformations to dihydroartemisinic acid, the immediate precursor to the high value anti-malarial drug artemisinin.