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CRISPRi-Based Dynamic Control of Carbon Flow for Efficient N‑Acetyl Glucosamine Production and Its Metabolomic Effects in Escherichia coli

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journal contribution
posted on 26.02.2020 by Quanwei Zhang, Zhengjie Hou, Qian Ma, Xiaolin Mo, Quanwei Sun, Miao Tan, Li Xia, Gaoyang Lin, Mengya Yang, Ying Zhang, Qingyang Xu, Yanjun Li, Ning Chen, Xixian Xie
Carbon competition between cell growth and product synthesis is the bottleneck in efficient N-acetyl glucosamine (GlcNAc) production in microbial cell factories. In this study, a xylose-induced T7 RNA polymerase–PT7 promoter system was introduced in Escherichia coli W3110 to control the GlcNAc synthesis. Meanwhile, an arabinose-induced CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) system was applied to adjust cell growth by attenuating the transcription of key growth-related genes. By designing proper sgRNAs, followed by elaborate adjustment of the addition time and concentration of the two inducers, the carbon flux between cell growth and GlcNAc synthesis was precisely redistributed. Comparative metabolomics analysis results confirmed that the repression of pfkA and zwf significantly attenuated the TCA cycle and the synthesis of related amino acids, saving more carbon for the GlcNAc synthesis. Finally, the simultaneous repression of pfkA and zwf in strain GLA-14 increased the GlcNAc titer by 47.6% compared with that in E. coli without the CRISPRi system in a shake flask. GLA-14 could produce 90.9 g/L GlcNAc within 40 h in a 5 L bioreactor, with a high productivity of 2.27 g/L/h. This dynamic strategy for rebalancing cell growth and product synthesis could be applied in the fermentative production of other chemicals derived from precursors synthesized via central carbon metabolism.