Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.116, No.12, 3333-3348, 2019
Metabolic engineering of a robust Escherichia coli strain with a dual protection system
Considerable attention has been given to the development of robust fermentation processes, but microbial contamination and phage infection remain deadly threats that need to be addressed. In this study, a robust Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) strain was successfully constructed by simultaneously introducing a nitrogen and phosphorus (N&P) system in combination with a CRISPR/Cas9 system. The N&P metabolic pathways were able to express formamidase and phosphite dehydrogenase in the host cell, thus enabled cell growth in auxotrophic 3-(N-morpholino)propanesulfonic acid medium with formamide and phosphite as nitrogen and phosphorus sources, respectively. N&P metabolic pathways also allowed efficient expression of heterologous proteins, such as green fluorescent protein (GFP) and chitinase, while contaminating bacteria or yeast species could hardly survive in this medium. The host strain was further engineered by exploiting the CRISPR/Cas9 system to enhance the resistance against phage attack. The resultant strain was able to grow in the presence of T7 phage at a concentration of up to 2 x 10(7) plaque-forming units/ml and produce GFP with a yield of up to 30 mu g/10(9) colony-forming units, exhibiting significant advantages over conventional engineered E. coli. This newly engineered, robust E. coli BL21(DE3) strain therefore shows great potential for future applications in industrial fermentation.