Journal Article

Astaxanthin biosynthesis is enhanced by high carotenogenic gene expression and decrease of fatty acids and ergosterol in a Phaffia rhodozyma mutant strain

Lili Miao, Shuang Chi, Yichen Tang, Zhongyu Su, Tie Yin, Guohua Guan and Ying Li

in FEMS Yeast Research

Volume 11, issue 2, pages 192-201
Published in print March 2011 |
Published online February 2011 | e-ISSN: 1567-1364 | DOI:

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An astaxanthin-overproducing (∼1000 μg g−1) strain of Phaffia rhodozyma, termed MK19, was established through 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine and Co60 mutagenesis from wild-type JCM9042 (merely 35–67 μg g−1). The total fatty acid content of MK19 was much lower than that of the wild type. Possible causes of the astaxanthin increase were studied at the gene expression level. The expression of the carotenogenic genes crtE, crtI, pbs, and ast, which are responsible for astaxanthin biosynthesis from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, was highly induced at the mRNA level, leading to excessive astaxanthin accumulation. In contrast, transcription levels of the genes (hmgs, hmgr, idi, mvk, mpd, fps), responsible for the initial steps in the terpenoid pathway, were essentially the same in wild type and MK19. Although fatty acid and total ergosterol content were reduced by 40–70 mg g−1 and 760.3 μg g−1, respectively, in MK19 as compared with the wild type, but the transcription levels of rate-limiting genes in fatty acid and ergosterol pathways such as acc and sqs were similar. Because fatty acids and ergosterol are two branch pathways of astaxanthin biosynthesis in P. rhodozyma, our findings indicate that enhancement of astaxanthin in MK19 results from decreased fatty acid and ergosterol biosynthesis, leading to precursor accumulation, and transfer to the astaxanthin pathway. Strengthening of the mevalonate pathway is suggested as a promising metabolic engineering approach for further astaxanthin enhancement in MK19.

Keywords: Phaffia rhodozyma; mutant; astaxanthin; fatty acids; ergosterol; real-time PCR

Journal Article.  5096 words.  Illustrated.

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