Biotechnology Letters, Vol.34, No.8, 1405-1414, 2012
Pathway engineering strategies for production of beneficial carotenoids in microbial hosts
Carotenoids, such as lycopene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin and astaxanthin have many benefits for human health. In addition to the functional role of carotenoids as vitamin A precursors, adequate consumption of carotenoids prevents the development of a variety of serious diseases. Biosynthesis of carotenoids is a complex process and it starts with the common isoprene precursors. Condensation of these precursors and subsequent modifications, by introducing hydroxyl- and keto-groups, leads to the generation of diversified carotenoid structures. To improve carotenoid production, metabolic engineering has been explored in bacteria, yeast, and algae. The success of the pathway engineering effort depends on the host metabolism, specific enzymes used, the enzyme expression levels, and the strategies employed. Despite the difficulty of pathway engineering for carotenoid production, great progress has been made over the past decade. We review metabolic engineering approaches used in a variety of microbial hosts for carotenoid biosynthesis. These advances will greatly expedite our efforts to bring the health benefits of carotenoids and other nutritional compounds to our diet.