Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.115, No.3, 719-728, 2018
Photoautotrophic production of macular pigment in a Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strain generated by using DNA-free CRISPR-Cas9 RNP-mediated mutagenesis
Lutein and zeaxanthin are dietary carotenoids reported to be protective against age-related macular degeneration. Recently, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has received attention as a photosynthetic cell factory, but the potential of this alga for carotenoid production has not yet been evaluated. In this study, we selected the C. reinhardtii CC-4349 strain as the best candidate among seven laboratory strains tested for carotenoid production. A knock-out mutant of the zeaxanthin epoxidase gene induced by preassembled DNA-free CRISPR-Cas9 ribonucleoproteins in the CC-4349 strain had a significantly higher zeaxanthin content (56-fold) and productivity (47-fold) than the wild type without the reduction in lutein level. Furthermore, we produced eggs fortified with lutein (2-fold) and zeaxanthin (2.2-fold) by feeding hens a diet containing the mutant. Our results clearly demonstrate the possibility of cost-effective commercial use of microalgal mutants induced by DNA-free CRISPR-Cas9 ribonucleoproteins in algal biotechnology for the production of high-value products.