Metabolic engineering of microorganisms for the production of L-arginine and its derivatives
Journal article, 2014
L-arginine (ARG) is an important amino acid for both medicinal and industrial applications. For almost six decades, the research has been going on for its improved industrial level production using different microorganisms. While the initial approaches involved random mutagenesis for increased tolerance to ARG and consequently higher ARG titer, it is laborious and often leads to unwanted phenotypes, such as retarded growth. Discovery of L-glutamate (GLU) overproducing strains and using them as base strains for ARG production led to improved ARG production titer. Continued effort to unveil molecular mechanisms led to the accumulation of detailed knowledge on amino acid metabolism, which has contributed to better understanding of ARG biosynthesis and its regulation. Moreover, systems metabolic engineering now enables scientists and engineers to efficiently construct genetically defined microorganisms for ARG overproduction in a more rational and system-wide manner. Despite such effort, ARG biosynthesis is still not fully understood and many of the genes in the pathway are mislabeled. Here, we review the major metabolic pathways and its regulation involved in ARG biosynthesis in different prokaryotes including recent discoveries. Also, various strategies for metabolic engineering of bacteria for the overproduction of ARG are described. Furthermore, metabolic engineering approaches for producing ARG derivatives such as L-ornithine (ORN), putrescine and cyanophycin are described. ORN is used in medical applications, while putrescine can be used as a bio-based precursor for the synthesis of nylon-4,6 and nylon-4,10. Cyanophycin is also an important compound for the production of polyaspartate, another important bio-based polymer. Strategies outlined here will serve as a general guideline for rationally designing of cell-factories for overproduction of ARG and related compounds that are industrially valuable.