American Chemical Society
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A Library of Tunable, Portable, and Inducer-Free Promoters Derived from Cyanobacteria

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-07-01, 11:41 authored by Annesha Sengupta, Swati Madhu, Pramod P. Wangikar
Cyanobacteria are emerging as hosts for various biotechnological applications. The ability to engineer these photosynthetic prokaryotes greatly depends on the availability of well-characterized promoters. Inducer-free promoters of a range of activities may be desirable for the eventual large-scale, outdoor cultivations. Further, several native promoters of cyanobacteria are repressed by high carbon dioxide or light, and it would be of interest to alter this property. We started with PrbcL and PcpcB, the well-characterized native promoters of the model cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, found upstream of the two abundantly expressed genes, Ribulose-1,5-Bisphosphate Carboxylase/Oxygenase, and phycocyanin β-1 subunit, respectively. The library of 48 promoters created via error-prone PCR of these 300-bp-long native promoters showed 2 orders of magnitude dynamic range with activities that were both lower and higher than those of the wild-type promoters. A few mutants of the PrbcL showed greater strength than PcpcB, which is widely considered a superstrong promoter. A number of mutant promoters did not show repression by high CO2 or light, typically found for PrbcL and PcpcB, respectively. Further, the wild-type and mutant promoters showed comparable activities in the fast-growing and stress-tolerant strains S. elongatus PCC 11801 and PCC 11802, suggesting that the library can be used in different cyanobacteria. Interestingly, the majority of the promoters showed strong expression in E. coli, thus adding to the repertoire of inducer-free promoters for this heterotrophic workhorse. Our results have implications in the metabolic engineering of cyanobacteria and E. coli.