Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.118, No.1, 265-278, 2021
Data-driven in silico prediction of regulation heterogeneity and ATP demands ofEscherichia coliin large-scale bioreactors
Escherichia coliexposed to industrial-scale heterogeneous mixing conditions respond to external stress by initiating short-term metabolic and long-term strategic transcriptional programs. In native habitats, long-term strategies allow survival in severe stress but are of limited use in large bioreactors, where microenvironmental conditions may change right after said programs are started. Related on/off switching of genes causes additional ATP burden that may reduce the cellular capacity for producing the desired product. Here, we present an agent-based data-driven model linked to computational fluid dynamics, finally allowing to predict additional ATP needs ofEscherichia coliK12 W3110 exposed to realistic large-scale bioreactor conditions. The complex model describes transcriptional up- and downregulation dynamics of about 600 genes starting from subminute range covering 28 h. The data-based approach was extracted from comprehensive scale-down experiments. Simulating mixing and mass transfer conditions in a 54 m(3)stirred bioreactor, 120,000E. colicells were tracked while fluctuating between different zones of glucose availability. It was found that cellular ATP demands rise between 30% and 45% of growth decoupled maintenance needs, which may limit the production of ATP-intensive product formation accordingly. Furthermore, spatial analysis of individual cell transcriptional patterns reveal very heterogeneous gene amplifications with hot spots of 50%-80% messenger RNA upregulation in the upper region of the bioreactor. The phenomenon reflects the time-delayed regulatory response of the cells that propagate through the stirred tank. After 4.2 h, cells adapt to environmental changes but still have to bear an additional 6% ATP demand.