Biotechnology Letters, Vol.37, No.9, 1869-1875, 2015
Production of Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid from cannabigerolic acid by whole cells of Pichia (Komagataella) pastoris expressing Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase from Cannabis sativa l.
The Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase (THCAS) from Cannabis sativa was expressed intracellularly in different organisms to investigate the potential of a biotechnological production of Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) using whole cells. Functional expression of THCAS was obtained in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia (Komagataella) pastoris using a signal peptide from the vacuolar protease, proteinase A. No functional expression was achieved in Escherichia coli. The highest volumetric activities obtained were 98 pkat ml(-1) (intracellular) and 44 pkat ml(-1) (extracellular) after 192 h of cultivation at 15 A degrees C using P. pastoris cells. Low solubility of CBGA prevents the THCAS application in aqueous cell-free systems, thus whole cells were used for a bioconversion of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) to THCA. Finally, 1 mM (0.36 g THCA l(-1)) THCA could be produced by 10.5 g(CDW) l(-1) before enzyme activity was lost. Whole cells of P. pastoris offer the capability of synthesizing pharmaceutical THCA production.