Mirza N, Crocoll C, Olsen CE, Halkier BA (2016) Engineering of methionine chain elongation part of glucoraphanin pathway in E. coli. Metab Eng 35: 31–37.
The methionine-derived glucosinolate glucoraphanin is associated with the health-promoting properties of broccoli. This has developed a strong interest in producing this compound in high amounts from a microbial source. Glucoraphanin synthesis starts with a five-gene chain elongation pathway that converts methionine to dihomo-methionine, which is subsequently converted to glucoraphanin by the seven-gene glucosinolate core structure pathway. As dihomo-methionine is the precursor amino acid for glucoraphanin production, a first challenge is to establish an expression system for production of dihomo-methionine. In planta, the methionine chain elongation enzymes are physically separated within the cell with the first enzyme in the cytosol while the rest are located in the chloroplast. A de-compartmentalization approach was applied to produce dihomo-methionine by expression of the respective plant genes in Escherichia coli cytosol. Introduction of two plasmids encoding the methionine chain elongation pathway into E. coli resulted in production of 25mgL(-1) of dihomo-methionine. In addition to chain-elongated methionine products, side-products from chain elongation of leucine were produced. Methionine supplementation enhanced dihomo-methionine production to 57mgL(-1), while keeping a steady level of the chain-elongated leucine products. Engineering of the de-compartmentalized pathway of dihomo-methionine in E. coli cytosol provides an important first step for microbial production of the health-promoting glucoraphanin.