Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Microbial Cell Factories and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Steroid biotransformations in biphasic systems with Yarrowia lipolytica expressing human liver cytochrome P450 genes

Andreas Braun1, Martina Geier1, Bruno Bühler2, Andreas Schmid2, Stephan Mauersberger3 and Anton Glieder1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Graz University of Technology, ACIB GmbH, Petersgasse 14, Graz, Austria

2 Laboratory of Chemical Biotechnology, TU Dortmund University, Emil-Figge-Strasse 66, Dortmund 44227, Germany

3 Institute of Microbiology, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden 01062, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:106  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-106

Published: 9 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Yarrowia lipolytica efficiently metabolizes and assimilates hydrophobic compounds such as n-alkanes and fatty acids. Efficient substrate uptake is enabled by naturally secreted emulsifiers and a modified cell surface hydrophobicity and protrusions formed by this yeast. We were examining the potential of recombinant Y. lipolytica as a biocatalyst for the oxidation of hardly soluble hydrophobic steroids. Furthermore, two-liquid biphasic culture systems were evaluated to increase substrate availability. While cells, together with water soluble nutrients, are maintained in the aqueous phase, substrates and most of the products are contained in a second water-immiscible organic solvent phase.

Results

For the first time we have co-expressed the human cytochromes P450 2D6 and 3A4 genes in Y. lipolytica together with human cytochrome P450 reductase (hCPR) or Y. lipolytica cytochrome P450 reductase (YlCPR). These whole-cell biocatalysts were used for the conversion of poorly soluble steroids in biphasic systems.

Employing a biphasic system with the organic solvent and Y. lipolytica carbon source ethyl oleate for the whole-cell bioconversion of progesterone, the initial specific hydroxylation rate in a 1.5 L stirred tank bioreactor was further increased 2-fold. Furthermore, the product formation was significantly prolonged as compared to the aqueous system.

Co-expression of the human CPR gene led to a 4-10-fold higher specific activity, compared to the co-overexpression of the native Y. lipolytica CPR gene. Multicopy transformants showed a 50-70-fold increase of activity as compared to single copy strains.

Conclusions

Alkane-assimilating yeast Y. lipolytica, coupled with the described expression strategies, demonstrated its high potential for biotransformations of hydrophobic substrates in two-liquid biphasic systems. Especially organic solvents which can be efficiently taken up and/or metabolized by the cell might enable more efficient bioconversion as compared to aqueous systems and even enable simple, continuous or at least high yield long time processes.

Keywords:
Yarrowia lipolytica; Biphasic sytem; Cytochrome P450; Steroid; Whole-cell bioconversion