Indexed on: 16 Aug '13Published on: 16 Aug '13Published in: Scientific Reports
Methylacetoin (3-hydroxy-3-methylbutan-2-one) and 2-methyl-2,3-butanediol are currently obtained exclusively via chemical synthesis. Here, we report, to the best of our knowledge, the first alternative route, using engineered Escherichia coli. The biological synthesis of methylacetoin was first accomplished by reversing its biodegradation, which involved modifying the enzyme complex involved, switching the reaction substrate, and coupling the process to an exothermic reaction. 2-Methyl-2,3-butanediol was then obtained by reducing methylacetoin by exploiting the substrate promiscuity of acetoin reductase. A complete biosynthetic pathway from renewable glucose and acetone was then established and optimized via in vivo enzyme screening and host metabolic engineering, which led to titers of 3.4 and 3.2 g l(-1) for methylacetoin and 2-methyl-2,3-butanediol, respectively. This work presents a biodegradation-inspired approach to creating new biosynthetic pathways for small molecules with no available natural biosynthetic pathway.