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31 May 2023

Nitrogen-controlled Valorization of Xylose-derived Compounds by Metabolically Engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum

The implementation of bioprocesses in an economically feasible and industrial competitive manner requires the optimal allocation of resources for a balanced distribution between biomass formation and product synthesis. The decoupling of growth and production in two-stage bioprocesses, aiming to ensure sufficient growth before the onset of production, is particularly relevant when target products inhibit growth. In order to avoid expensive inducer molecules, continuing process monitoring, elaborate individual process optimization, and strain engineering, we developed and applied nitrogen deprivation-induced expression of genes for product biosynthesis. Two native nitrogen deprivation-inducible promoters were identified and shown to function for dynamic growth-decoupled gene expression or CRISPRi-mediated gene knockdown in C. glutamicum with superior induction factors than the standard IPTG-inducible Ptrc promoter. Valorization of xylose to produce either the sugar acid xylonic acid or the sugar alcohol xylitol from xylose as sole source of carbon and energy was demonstrated. Competitive titers of up to 34 g·L−1 xylonate and 13 g·L−1 xylitol were achieved in two-stage processes. We discussed that the transfer to bioprocesses with C. glutamicum using carbon sources other than xylose appears straightforward in particular regarding production of growth-inhibitory compounds by their growth-decoupled fermentative production.

Keywords: Two-stage bioprocess; Nitrogen starvation; Corynebacterium glutamicum; Xylitol; Xylonate; CRISPRi; Sustainable production; Xylose