American Chemical Society
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Development of a Rhodococcus opacus Cell Factory for Valorizing Lignin to Muconate

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-01-23, 20:35 authored by Chenggu Cai, Zhaoxian Xu, Meilin Xu, Mufeng Cai, Mingjie Jin
As multiple biochemical pathways exist in nature for lignin synthesis and degradation, lignin valorization through biological pathways has attracted much attention. cis,cis-Muconate, a common metabolic intermediate in lignin biodegradation, is an important platform chemical for the synthesis of a variety of polymers. In this work, Rhodococcus opacus PD630, which is efficient in the assimilation of aromatic compounds, was modified for the first time to accumulate cis,cis-muconate from lignin and lignin-derived aromatics. To achieve efficient genome modification for R. opacus PD630, a markerless gene deletion/insertion system was constructed based on a mutant phenylalanyl-tRNA synthase gene as a counter-selection marker. With the developed gene deletion/insertion system, several R. opacus PD630 mutants were successfully constructed for cis,cis-muconate production from lignin-derived aromatics using catechol and protocatechuate as two key funnel nodes. Results indicated the constructed strains could assimilate at least 15 types of lignin-derived aromatics and real lignin for cis,cis-muconate production. Moreover, both laccase addition and H2SO4 + NaOH combinatorial pretreatment enhanced real lignin valorization to cis,cis-muconate. Ultimately, 1.63 g/L cis,cis-muconate was produced using lignin from corn stover as the substrate by a fed-batch fermentation process. Overall, these results highlight the great potential of using R. opacus as a cell factory for valorizing lignin to cis,cis-muconate and other valuable products.