Technological watch

Eliminating genes for a two?component system increases PHB productivity in Cupriavidus basilensis 4G11 under PHB suppressing, nonstress conditions

Species of bacteria from the genus Cupriavidus are known, in part, for their ability to produce high amounts of poly?hydroxybutyrate (PHB) making them attractive candidates for bioplastic production. The native synthesis of PHB occurs during periods of metabolic stress, and the process regulating the initiation of PHB accumulation in these organisms is not fully understood. Screening an RB?TnSeq transposon library of Cupriavidus basilensis 4G11 allowed us to identify two genes of an apparent, uncharacterized two?component system, which when omitted from the genome enable increased PHB productivity in balanced, nonstress growth conditions. We observe average increases in PHB productivity of 56% and 41% relative to the wildtype parent strain upon deleting each gene individually from the genome. The increased PHB phenotype disappears, however, in nitrogen?free unbalanced growth conditions suggesting the phenotype is specific to fast?growing, replete, nonstress growth. Bioproduction modeling suggests this phenotype could be due to a decreased reliance on metabolic stress induced by nitrogen limitation to initiate PHB production in the mutant strains. Due to uncertainty in the two?component system's input signal and regulon, the mechanism by which these genes impart this phenotype remains unclear. Such strains may allow for the use of single?stage, continuous bioreactor systems, which are far simpler than many PHB bioproduction schemes used previously, given a similar product yield to batch systems in such a configuration. Bioproductivity modeling suggests that omitting this regulation in the cells may increase PHB productivity up to 24% relative to the wildtype organism when using single?stage continuous systems. This work expands our understanding of the regulation of PHB accumulation in Cupriavidus, in particular the initiation of this process upon transition into unbalanced growth regimes.

Publication date: 28/08/2023



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.