Evaluating temperature-induced regulation of a ROSE-like RNA-thermometer for heterologous rhamnolipid production in Pseudomonas putida KT2440

Research paper by Philipp Noll, Chantal Treinen, Sven Müller, Sabine Senkalla, Lars Lilge, Rudolf Hausmann, Marius Henkel

Indexed on: 17 Dec '20Published on: 25 Sep '19Published in: AMB Express


The microbial production of rhamnolipids has been in the focus of research for the last decades. Today, mainly heterologous production systems are targeted due to the advantage of non-pathogenic hosts as well as uncoupling from complex quorum sensing regulatory networks compared to their natural producer Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the recent past, the presence and function of a ROSE-like RNA-thermometer located in the 5′UTR of the rhamnosyltransferase genes rhlAB has been reported in wild type P. aeruginosa. In this study, the temperature-induced regulation of this native RNA-thermometer for heterologous rhamnolipid production was evaluated and its potential application for process control is discussed. For this purpose, the non-pathogenic production host P. putida KT2440 containing the rhlAB genes with the native P. aeruginosa 5′-UTR region was used. The system was evaluated and characterized regarding the effect of temperature on growth and product formation, as represented by efficiency parameters and yields. Experimental data suggests a major effect of temperature on specific rhamnolipid production rates. With maximum values of 0.23 g/(g h) at 37 °C, this constitutes a more than 60% increase compared to the production rate of 0.14 g/(g h) at the growth optimum of 30 °C. Interestingly however, control experiments unveiled that besides the regulatory effect of the RNA-thermometer, multiple metabolic effects may contribute equally to the observed increase in production rate. As such, this work constitutes an important step towards the utilization of temperature-based process designs and enables the possibility for novel approaches for process control.