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Optimizing mevalonate pathway for squalene production in Yarrowia lipolytica
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  • Huan Liu,
  • Fang Wang,
  • Li Deng,
  • Peng Xu
Huan Liu
Beijing University of Chemical Technology
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Fang Wang
Beijing University of Chemical Technology
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Li Deng
Beijing University of Chemical Technology
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Peng Xu
UMBC
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Abstract

Squalene is the gateway molecule for triterpene-based natural products and steroids-based pharmaceuticals. As a super lubricant, it has been used widely in health care industry due to its skin compatibility and thermostability. Squalene is traditionally sourced from shark-hunting or oil plant extraction, which is cost-prohibitive and not sustainable. Reconstitution of squalene biosynthetic pathway in microbial hosts is considered as a promising alternative for cost-efficient and scalable synthesis of squalene. In this work, we reported the engineering of the oleaginous yeast, Y. lipolytica, as a potential host for squalene production. We systematically identified the bottleneck of the pathway and discovered that the native HMG-CoA reductase led to the highest squalene improvement. With the recycling of NADPH from the mannitol cycle, the engineered strain produced about 180.3 mg/l and 188.2 mg/L squalene from glucose or acetate minimal media, respectively. By optimizing the C/N ratio, controlling the media pH and mitigating the acetyl-CoA flux competition from lipogenesis, the engineered strain produced about 502.7 mg/L squalene in shake flaks, a 28-fold increase compared to the parental strain (17.2 mg/L). We also profiled the metabolic byproducts citric acid and mannitol level and observed that they are reincorporated into cell metabolism at the late stage of fermentation. This work may serve as a baseline to harness Y. lipolytica as an oleaginous cell factory for production of squalene or terpene-based chemicals.