Biological synthesis of coumarins in Escherichia coli.

Microbial cell factories

PubMedID: 25927349

Yang SM, Shim GY, Kim BG, Ahn JH. Biological synthesis of coumarins in Escherichia coli. Microb Cell Fact. 2015;1465.
Coumarins are a major group of plant secondary metabolites that serves as defense compounds against pathogens. Although coumarins can be obtained from diverse plant sources, the use of microorganisms to synthesize them could be an alternative way to supply building blocks for the synthesis of diverse coumarin derivatives.

Constructs harboring two genes, F6'H (encoding feruloyl CoA 6' hydroxylase) and 4CL (encoding 4-coumarate CoA:ligase), were manipulated to increase the productivity of coumarins. Escherichia coli expressing the two genes was cultured in medium supplemented with hydroxycinnamic acids (HCs) including p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, resulting in the synthesis of the corresponding coumarins, umbelliferone, esculetin, and scopoletin. Cell concentration and initial substrate feeding concentration were optimized. In addition, umbelliferone, and esculetin were synthesized from glucose by using a ybgC deletion mutant and co-expressing tyrosine ammonia lyase and other genes involved in the tyrosine biosynthesis pathway.

To produce coumarin derivatives (umbelliferone, scopoletin, and esculetin) in E. coli, several constructs containing F6'H and 4CL were made, and their ability to synthesize coumarin derivatives was tested. The solubility of F6'H was critical for the final yield. After optimization, 82.9 mg/L of umbelliferone, 79.5 mg/L of scopoletin, and 52.3 mg/L of esculetin were biosynthesized from the corresponding HCs, respectively in E. coli. Umbelliferone and esculetin were also synthesized from glucose using engineered E. coli strains. The final yields of umbelliferone and esculetin were 66.1 and 61.4 mg/L, respectively.