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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Engineering a Thermostable Keto Acid Decarboxylase Using Directed Evolution and Computationally Directed Protein Design.

  • Author(s): Soh, Lemuel MJ
  • Mak, Wai Shun
  • Lin, Paul P
  • Mi, Luo
  • Chen, Frederic Y-H
  • Damoiseaux, Robert
  • Siegel, Justin B
  • Liao, James C
  • et al.

Keto acid decarboxylase (Kdc) is a key enzyme in producing keto acid derived higher alcohols, like isobutanol. The most active Kdc's are found in mesophiles; the only reported Kdc activity in thermophiles is 2 orders of magnitude less active. Therefore, the thermostability of mesophilic Kdc limits isobutanol production temperature. Here, we report development of a thermostable 2-ketoisovalerate decarboxylase (Kivd) with 10.5-fold increased residual activity after 1h preincubation at 60 °C. Starting with mesophilic Lactococcus lactis Kivd, a library was generated using random mutagenesis and approximately 8,000 independent variants were screened. The top single-mutation variants were recombined. To further improve thermostability, 16 designs built using Rosetta Comparative Modeling were screened and the most active was recombined to form our best variant, LLM4. Compared to wild-type Kivd, a 13 °C increase in melting temperature and over 4-fold increase in half-life at 60 °C were observed. LLM4 will be useful for keto acid derived alcohol production in lignocellulosic thermophiles.

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