Rhamnolipids production from sucrose by engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Journal article, 2018
Biosurfactants are biological tensioactive agents that can be used in the cosmetic and food industries. Rhamnolipids are glycolipid biosurfactants naturally produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and are composed of one or two rhamnose molecules linked to beta-hydroxy fatty acid chains. These compounds are green alternatives to petrochemical surfactants, but their large-scale production is still in its infancy, hindered due to pathogenicity of natural producer, high substrate and purification costs and low yields and productivities. This study, for the first time, aimed at producing mono-rhamnolipids from sucrose by recombinant GRAS Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. Six enzymes from P. aeruginosa involved in mono-rhamnolipid biosynthesis were functionally expressed in the yeast. Furthermore, its SUC2 invertase gene was disrupted and a sucrose phosphorylase gene from Pelomonas saccharophila was also expressed to reduce the pathway's overall energy requirement. Two strains were constructed aiming to produce mono-rhamnolipids and the pathway's intermediate dTDP-L-rhamnose. Production of both molecules was analyzed by confocal microscopy and mass spectrometry, respectively. These strains displayed, for the first time as a proof of concept, the potential of production of these molecules by a GRAS eukaryotic microorganism from an inexpensive substrate. These constructs show the potential to further improve rhamnolipids production in a yeast-based industrial bioprocess.