Metabolic engineering of cyanobacteria for photoautotrophic production of heparosan, a pharmaceutical precursor of heparin

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Sarnaik, Aditya
Abernathy, Mary H.
Han, Xiaorui
Ouyang, Yilan
Xia, Ke
Chen, Yin
Cress, Brady
Zhang, Fuming
Lali, Arvind
Pandit, Reena
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Biology , Chemistry and chemical biology , Chemical and biological engineering , Biomedical engineering
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Heparosan is an unsulfated polysaccharide potentially important for its wide range of cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications, particularly as the precursor for the extensively used anticoagulant, heparin. Generally sourced from animals, commercially available heparin may encounter various immunological and contamination risks. Thus, safe and sustainable microbial platforms could serve as an alternative heparin source. Synechococcus, due to their fast photoautotrophic growth, strong sugar phosphate metabolisms and generally regarded as safe (GRAS) nature, may serve as photo-biorefineries for manufacturing heparosan. In this study, we have synthesized an integrative plasmid pUPm48 for cloning galU and PmHS2 genes in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. The engineered recombinants (pgp7942) exhibited significant production of heparosan under different culture conditions, where the products were present in both supernatant and cell biomass. The maximum yield of 0.7 ± 0.2 μg/g-DCW (dry cell weight) and a titer of 2.8 ± 0.3 μg/L was achieved by pgp7942 under shake flask and continuous light conditions. Large scale plastic-bag cultures with natural diurnal light exhibited heparosan production of 0.5 μg/g-DCW with a titer of 0.44 μg/L. The analysis also found PCC 7942 encodes a promiscuous uridyltransferase for UDP-glucose synthesis and naturally produces multiple glycosaminoglycans including chondroitin sulfate (CS). This study demonstrates for the first-time cyanobacteria as a promising photoautotrophic refinery for producing a high-value polysaccharide commonly from animals.
Algal Research 37 57–63
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Metabolic engineering of cyanobacteria for photoautotrophic production of heparosan, a pharmaceutical precursor of heparin, A. Sarnaika, M. H. Abernathy, X. Han, Y. Ouyang, K. Xia, Y. Chen, B. Cress, F. Zhang, A. Lali, R. Pandita, R. J. Linhardt, Y. J. Tang, M. A.G. Koffas, Algal Research 37 57–63, 2019.
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