Matching Items (23)

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Engineering sugar utilization and microbial tolerance toward lignocellulose conversion

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Production of fuels and chemicals through a fermentation-based manufacturing process that uses renewable feedstock such as lignocellulosic biomass is a desirable alternative to petrochemicals. Although it is still in its

Production of fuels and chemicals through a fermentation-based manufacturing process that uses renewable feedstock such as lignocellulosic biomass is a desirable alternative to petrochemicals. Although it is still in its infancy, synthetic biology offers great potential to overcome the challenges associated with lignocellulose conversion. In this review, we will summarize the identification and optimization of synthetic biological parts used to enhance the utilization of lignocellulose-derived sugars and to increase the biocatalyst tolerance for lignocellulose-derived fermentation inhibitors. We will also discuss the ongoing efforts and future applications of synthetic integrated biological systems used to improve lignocellulose conversion.

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Date Created
  • 2015-02-18

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Characterization of the Heat Stress Tolerance of an  Escherichia coli RNA Polymerase Mutant

Description

Abiotic stresses, such as heat, can drive protein misfolding and aggregation, leading to inhibition of cellular function and ultimately cell death. Unexpectedly, a thermotolerant Escherichia coli was identified from a

Abiotic stresses, such as heat, can drive protein misfolding and aggregation, leading to inhibition of cellular function and ultimately cell death. Unexpectedly, a thermotolerant Escherichia coli was identified from a pool of antibiotic resistant RNA polymerase β subunit (rpoB) mutants. This stress tolerant phenotype was characterized through exposure to high temperature and ethanol. After 30-minute exposure of cells to 55°C or 25% ethanol, the mutant displayed 100 times greater viability than the wild-type, indicating that the rpoB mutation may have broadly affected the cellular environment to reduce protein misfolding and/or prevent protein aggregation. To further test this hypothesis, we examined thermotolerance of cells lacking heat shock chaperone DnaJ (Hsp40), which is a cochaperone of one of the most abundant and conserved chaperones, DnaK (Hsp70). The deletion of dnaJ led to severe growth defects in the wild-type, namely a slower growth rate and extreme filamentation at 42°C. The severity of the growth defects increased after additionally deleting DnaJ analog, CbpA. However, these defects were significantly ameliorated by the rpoB mutation. Finally, the rpoB mutant was found to be minimally affected by the simultaneous depletion of DnaK and DnaJ compared to the wild-type, which failed to form single colonies at 37°C and 42°C. Based on these observations, it is proposed that the rpoB mutant’s robust thermotolerant phenotype results from a cellular environment protective against protein aggregation or improper folding. The folding environment of the rpoB mutants should be further examined to elucidate the mechanism by which both antibiotic resistance and thermotolerance can be conferred.

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  • 2020-05

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Identification of aromatic-inducible promoters and heterologous biosensors as tuning elements for styrene production in E. coli

Description

One of the primary bottlenecks to chemical production in biological organisms is the toxicity of the chemical. Overexpression of efflux pumps has been shown to increase tolerance to aromatic compounds

One of the primary bottlenecks to chemical production in biological organisms is the toxicity of the chemical. Overexpression of efflux pumps has been shown to increase tolerance to aromatic compounds such as styrene and styrene oxide. Tight control of pump expression is necessary to maximize titers and prevent excessive strain on the cells. This study aimed to identify aromatic-sensitive native promoters and heterologous biosensors for construction of closed-loop control of efflux pump expression in E. coli. Using a promoter library constructed by Zaslaver et al., activation was measured through GFP output. Promoters were evaluated for their sensitivity to the addition of one of four aromatic compounds, their "leaking" of signal, and their induction threshold. Out of 43 targeted promoters, 4 promoters (cmr, mdtG, yahN, yajR) for styrene oxide, 2 promoters (mdtG, yahN) for styrene, 0 promoters for 2-phenylethanol, and 1 promoter for phenol (pheP) were identified as ideal control elements in aromatic bioproduction. In addition, a series of three biosensors (NahR, XylS, DmpR) known to be inducible by other aromatics were screened against styrene oxide, 2-phenylethanol, and phenol. The targeted application of these biosensors is aromatic-induced activation of linked efflux pumps. All three biosensors responded strongly in the presence of styrene oxide and 2-phenylethanol, with minor activation in the presence of phenol. Bioproduction of aromatics continues to gain traction in the biotechnology industry, and the continued discovery of aromatic-inducible elements will be essential to effective pathway control.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Cheminformatic-based characterization of malate and lactate export networks

Description

Fermentative bioproduction is an efficient production avenue for many small organic acids with less greenhouse gas emissions than petrochemical conversion. Export of these organic acids from the cell is proposed

Fermentative bioproduction is an efficient production avenue for many small organic acids with less greenhouse gas emissions than petrochemical conversion. Export of these organic acids from the cell is proposed to be mediated by networks of transmembrane transport proteins. However characterization of full transporter networks or the substrate promiscuity of individual transporters is often incomplete. Here, we used a cheminformatic approach to predict previously unknown native activity of E. coli transporters based on substrate promiscuity. Experimental validation in characterized several major putative malate exporters, whereas others were characterized as weak putative lactate exporters. The lactate export network remains incompletely characterized and might be mediated by a large, evolved network of promiscuous transporters.

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Date Created
  • 2018-12

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Methyl Laurate Production in Synechocystis

Description

To efficiently produce biofuels and meet the planet’s rising energy demands, different biofuel production methods need to be developed and improved. One of the ways is to produce fatty acid

To efficiently produce biofuels and meet the planet’s rising energy demands, different biofuel production methods need to be developed and improved. One of the ways is to produce fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, a versatile strain of cyanobacteria. In this thesis, Synechocystis was engineered to produce and excrete methyl laurate. In this pathway, first, lauroyl-ACP from fatty acid biosynthesis is converted to laurate by a thioesterase (TE) from Umbellularia californica. Then, the laurate is methylated to methyl laurate by a juvenile hormone acid O-methyltransferase (DmJHAMT) from Drosophila melanogaster. The TE/∆slr1609 strain of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 contains the TE gene and lacks the slr1609 gene encoding an acyl–acyl carrier protein synthetase, which functions in free fatty acid reuptake. The DmJHAMT gene was introduced into this strain for FAME production.
The DmJHAMT gene was cloned into a vector that contains neutral sites from the Synechocystis genome, making it suitable for homologous recombination, and a kanamycin resistance gene, for selection. The obtained plasmid was verified using restriction digests and Sanger sequencing. The sequence analysis and comparison of the cDNA in the obtained plasmid and the mRNA transcript of the same gene revealed three amino acid differences. Subsequent comparison with homologous genes in other Drosophila species revealed the differences in the cDNA match those of the other species, and thus, the gene most likely is functional.
The plasmid was transformed into Synechocystis, and PCRs were used to confirm proper integration and segregation. The TE/∆slr1609/DmJHAMT strain produced 62 mg/L methyl laurate in 12 days under a light intensity of 150 µmol photons m-2 s-1, bubbled with 0.5% CO2 at a rate of 30 mL/min, and supplemented with 0.5 mM methionine. The laurate levels did not decrease over time, but instead, remained stagnant after day 3. When the strain was grown in the same conditions without methionine, the laurate concentrations continued to increase above 400 µM, suggesting minimal methyl laurate production and thus a strong need for methionine supplementation. This work provides further evidence of the viability and success of the introduced FAME production pathway, and improved efficiency may be gained in the future.

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  • 2020-05

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Strong Episodic Selection for Natural Competence for Transformation due to Host-Pathogen Dynamics

Description

Many bacteria actively import environmental DNA and incorporate it into their genomes. This behavior, referred to as transformation, has been described in many species from diverse taxonomic backgrounds. Transformation is

Many bacteria actively import environmental DNA and incorporate it into their genomes. This behavior, referred to as transformation, has been described in many species from diverse taxonomic backgrounds. Transformation is expected to carry some selective advantages similar to those postulated for meiotic sex in eukaryotes. However, the accumulation of loss-of-function alleles at transformation loci and an increased mutational load from recombining with DNA from dead cells create additional costs to transformation. These costs have been shown to outweigh many of the benefits of recombination under a variety of likely parameters. We investigate an additional proposed benefit of sexual recombination, the Red Queen hypothesis, as it relates to bacterial transformation. Here we describe a computational model showing that host-pathogen coevolution may provide a large selective benefit to transformation and allow transforming cells to invade an environment dominated by otherwise equal non-transformers. Furthermore, we observe that host-pathogen dynamics cause the selection pressure on transformation to vary extensively in time, explaining the tight regulation and wide variety of rates observed in naturally competent bacteria. Host-pathogen dynamics may explain the evolution and maintenance of natural competence despite its associated costs.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Preliminary Metabolic Reconstruction of Two Methane Producing Microbes: Methanoregula boonei 6A8 and Methanosphaerula palustris E1-9c

Description

Methane (CH4) is very important in the environment as it is a greenhouse gas and important for the degradation of organic matter. During the last 200 years the atmospheric concentration

Methane (CH4) is very important in the environment as it is a greenhouse gas and important for the degradation of organic matter. During the last 200 years the atmospheric concentration of CH4 has tripled. Methanogens are methane-producing microbes from the Archaea domain that complete the final step in breaking down organic matter to generate methane through a process called methanogenesis. They contribute to about 74% of the CH4 present on the Earth's atmosphere, producing 1 billion tons of methane annually. The purpose of this work is to generate a preliminary metabolic reconstruction model of two methanogens: Methanoregula boonei 6A8 and Methanosphaerula palustris E1-9c. M. boonei and M. palustris are part of the Methanomicrobiales order and perform hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, which means that they reduce CO2 to CH4 by using H2 as their major electron donor. Metabolic models are frameworks for understanding a cell as a system and they provide the means to assess the changes in gene regulation in response in various environmental and physiological constraints. The Pathway-Tools software v16 was used to generate these draft models. The models were manually curated using literature searches, the KEGG database and homology methods with the Methanosarcina acetivorans strain, the closest methanogen strain with a nearly complete metabolic reconstruction. These preliminary models attempt to complete the pathways required for amino acid biosynthesis, methanogenesis, and major cofactors related to methanogenesis. The M. boonei reconstruction currently includes 99 pathways and has 82% of its reactions completed, while the M. palustris reconstruction includes 102 pathways and has 89% of its reactions completed.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Enhancing Escherichia coli Fermentative Performance with Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 Genes

Description

Renewable bioproduction through fermentation of microbial species such as E. coli shows much promise in comparison to conventional fossil fuel based chemical production. Although Escherichia coli is a workhorse for

Renewable bioproduction through fermentation of microbial species such as E. coli shows much promise in comparison to conventional fossil fuel based chemical production. Although Escherichia coli is a workhorse for bioproduction, there are inherent limitations associated with the use of this organism which negatively affect bioproduction. One example is E. coli fermentative growth being less robust compared to some microbes such as Lactobacilli under anaerobic and microaerobic fermentation conditions. Identification and characterization of its fermentative growth constraints will help in making E. coli a better fermentation host. In this thesis, I demonstrate that Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 has desirable fermentative capabilities that may be transferrable to E. coli through genetic engineering to alleviate growth restraints. This has led to the hypothesis that these L. plantarum DNA sequences are transferrable through a genomic library. A background of comparative genomics and complementary literature review has demonstrated that E. coli growth may be hindered by stress from many toxin-antitoxin systems. L. plantarum WCFS1 optimizes amino acid catabolism over glycolysis to generate high ATP levels from reducing agents and proton motive force, and Lactobacilli are resistant to acidic environments and encodes a wide variety of acid transporters that could help E. coli fermentative growth. Since a great variety of L. plantarum genes may contribute to its fermentative capabilities, a gDNA library containing L. plantarum WCFS1 genes has been successfully constructed for testing in E. coli bioproducers to search for specific genes that may enhance E. coli fermentative performance and elucidate the molecular basis of Lactobacillus fermentative success.

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  • 2019-05

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Optimization of the Toxin MazF as a Counter-Selection Marker in the Cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803

Description

Traditional methods of genetic engineering are often limited to relatively few rounds of gene additions, deletions, or alterations due to a lack of additional available antibiotic resistance markers. Counter-selection marker

Traditional methods of genetic engineering are often limited to relatively few rounds of gene additions, deletions, or alterations due to a lack of additional available antibiotic resistance markers. Counter-selection marker methods can be used to remove and reuse marker genes as desired, resulting in markerless engineered strains and allowing for theoretically unlimited rounds of genetic modifications. The development of suitable counter-selection markers is vital for the development of model organisms such as cyanobacteria as biotechnological platforms.
In the hopes of providing other researchers with a new tool for markerless genetic engineering of cyanobacteria, the toxin MazF from E. coli was developed as a counter-selection marker in the most widely used cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. The mazF gene from E. coli was cloned and inserted into a plasmid vector for downstream transformation of Synechocystis. The plasmid construct also contained two homologous flanking regions for integration of the insert into the Synechocystis genome, a nickel-inducible response regulator and promoter to control MazF expression, and a kanamycin resistance gene to serve as the antibiotic marker. In order to ensure the mazF plasmids could be cloned in a MazF-sensitive E. coli host even with slight promoter leakage, MazF expression was toned down by decreasing the efficiency of translation initiation by inserting base pairs between the ribosome binding site and the start codon of the mazF gene. Following successful cloning by E. coli, the mazF plasmids were then used to transform Synechocystis to create mazF mutant strains. Genomic analysis confirmed the successful transformation and segregation of mazF mutant strains containing the desired marker cassette. Phenotypic analysis revealed both growth arrest and production of mazF transcripts in mazF mutant strains following the addition of nickel to the cell cultures, indicating successful nickel-induced MazF expression as desired.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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S. Cerevisiae Sul1 and Sul2 Sulfate Transporters in Varying Sulfate Concentrations

Description

The primary objective of this project is to further the knowledge about SCL26 family of anion transporters. The goals of the experiment were to find the lowest sulfate concentration where

The primary objective of this project is to further the knowledge about SCL26 family of anion transporters. The goals of the experiment were to find the lowest sulfate concentration where the yeast without Sulp1 and Sulp2 is able to grow, but it grows very slowly, and to find a higher sulfate concentration where the yeast grows quickly, with or without the sulfate transporters. The lowest sulfate concentration where the yeast without the sulfate transporters is able to grow was determined to be 2-4 mM, however, this range can likely be refined by more quantitative analytical methods. At a sulfate concentration of 20 mM sulfate or higher, the yeast is able to grow quickly without high-affinity sulfate transporters. The next step in the project is to re-introduce the Sulp1 and Sulp2 genes into the yeast, so that growth in low and high sulfate conditions can be compared with and without the Sulp1 and Sulp2 proteins. The long-term goals of the project are to bring experience with yeast to Dr. Nannenga’s structural discovery lab, to determine if yeast sulfate transporters respond in the same way to drug candidates as human sulfate transporters, and to determine the structure of the proteins using cryo-electron microscopy.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05