The Role of GroE Chaperonins in Developing Biocatalysts for Biofuel and Chemical Production


As the need and interest for producing renewable biofuels and biochemical has grown, new avenues to improve product yields and productivity have been explored. Specifically, improving the tolerance of host microbes towards stressors, such as heat shock or the presence of harmful solvents, has been an especially important route to improve industrial-scale chemical production. In this review, we discuss recent advances in microbial engineering for renewable chemical production through the introduction and expression of chaperonins, especially the bacterial GroE complex.

The GroE complex provides a closed-off environment and allows vital proteins to enter and engage in post-translational folding or refolding in a more-ideal environment, allowing the microbe to possess increased survival rates in low/high temperatures or in high concentrations of otherwise harmful end-products. Overall, we highlighted how chaperonin systems such as the GroE complex could have many industrially-relevant uses in the coming years.

Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology have been applied for the discovery and redesign of the potentials of microorganisms for numerous desired purposes. Both model hosting strains and microorganisms with highly-specific functions have been engineered to improve feedstock utilization, target fuel and chemical production, as well as regulate cellular physiology. For instance, the baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which was first used by the human society thousands of years ago, has been genetically engineered to ferment otherwise non-fermentable carbon sources. Indeed, C5 sugars such as xylose cannot natively be catabolized by S. cerevisiae.

The engineered microbes could simultatneously co-ferment carbon in the hydrolysate of lignocellulosic biomass such as hemicellulose- and cellulose-derived C5/C6 sugars and lignin-derived aromaticsand produce fuels and value-added chemicals such as ethanol, n-butanols esquiterpenes, poly hydroxyl alkanoates (PHA), and fatty acid ethyl esters. These advances are not limited to model hosts, such as S. cerevisiae and Escherichia coli, but have also been demonstrated in Clostridium acetobutylicum, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas putida, and Synechococcus elongates.

Current Issue: Volume 8 Issue 1

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