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Augmenting the Calvin–Benson–Bassham cycle by a synthetic malyl-CoA-glycerate carbon fixation pathway


The Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle is presumably evolved for optimal synthesis of C3 sugars, but not for the production of C2 metabolite acetyl-CoA. The carbon loss in producing acetyl-CoA from decarboxylation of C3 sugar limits the maximum carbon yield of photosynthesis. Here we design a synthetic malyl-CoA-glycerate (MCG) pathway to augment the CBB cycle for efficient acetyl-CoA synthesis. This pathway converts a C3 metabolite to two acetyl-CoA by fixation of one additional CO2 equivalent, or assimilates glyoxylate, a photorespiration intermediate, to produce acetyl-CoA without net carbon loss. We first functionally demonstrate the design of the MCG pathway in vitro and in Escherichia coli. We then implement the pathway in a photosynthetic organism Synechococcus elongates PCC7942, and show that it increases the intracellular acetyl-CoA pool and enhances bicarbonate assimilation by roughly 2-fold. This work provides a strategy to improve carbon fixation efficiency in photosynthetic organisms.

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