Identification and characterization of a galacturonic acid transporter from Neurospora crassa and its application for Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation processes

Biotechnology for Biofuels

Benz JP1, Protzko RJ, Andrich JM, Bauer S, Dueber JE, Somerville CR.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pectin-rich agricultural wastes potentially represent favorable feedstocks for the sustainable production of alternative energy and bio-products. Their efficient utilization requires the conversion of all major constituent sugars. The current inability of the popular fermentation hostSaccharomyces cerevisiae to metabolize the major pectic monosaccharide D-galacturonic acid (D-GalA) significantly hampers these efforts. While it has been reasoned that the optimization of cellular D-GalA uptake will be critical for the engineering of D-GalA utilization in yeast, no dedicated eukaryotic transport protein has been biochemically described. Here we report for the first time such a eukaryotic D-GalA transporter and characterize its functionality in S. cerevisiae.

RESULTS:

We identified and characterized the D-GalA transporter GAT-1 out of a group of candidate genes obtained from co-expression analysis in N. crassa. The N. crassa Δgat-1 deletion strain is substantially affected in growth on pectic substrates, unable to take up D-GalA, and impaired in D-GalA-mediated signaling events. Moreover, expression of a gat-1 construct in yeast conferred the ability for strong high-affinity D-GalA accumulation rates, providing evidence for GAT-1 being a bona fide D-GalA transport protein. By recombinantly co-expressing D-galacturonate reductase or uronate dehydrogenase in yeast we furthermore demonstrated a transporter-dependent conversion of D-GalA towards more reduced (L-galactonate) or oxidized (meso-galactaric acid) downstream products, respectively, over a broad concentration range.

CONCLUSIONS:

By utilizing the novel D-GalA transporter GAT-1 in S. cerevisiae we successfully generated a transporter-dependent uptake and catalysis system for D-GalA into two products with high potential for utilization as platform chemicals. Our data thereby provide a considerable first step towards a more complete utilization of biomass for biofuel and value-added chemicals production.

Dueber Lab Publications 

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