Indexed on: 11 Aug '11Published on: 11 Aug '11Published in: Metabolic Engineering
The unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 contains a single bidirectional NiFe-Hox-hydrogenase, which evolves hydrogen under certain environmental conditions. The nitrate assimilation pathway is a potential competing pathway that may reduce the electron flow to the hydrogenase and thereby limit hydrogen production. To improve H(2) production, the nitrate assimilation pathway was disrupted by genetic engineering to redirect the electron flow towards the Hox-hydrogenase. Mutant strains disrupted in either nitrate reductase (ΔnarB) or nitrite reductase (ΔnirA) or both nitrate reductase and nitrite reductase (ΔnarB:ΔnirA) were constructed and tested for their ability to produce hydrogen. H(2) production and Hox-hydrogenase activities in all the mutant strains were higher than those in wild-type. Highest H(2) production was observed in the ΔnarB:ΔnirA strain. Small changes were observed for Hox-hydrogenase enzyme activities and only minor changes in transcript levels of hoxH and hoxY were not correlated with H(2) production. The results suggest that the high rate of H(2) production observed in the ΔnarB:ΔnirA strain of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 is the result of redirecting the electron supply from the nitrate assimilation pathway, through genetic engineering, towards the Hox-hydrogenase.