Malic acid is a potential biomass-derivable "building block" for chemical synthesis. Since wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains produce only low levels of malate, metabolic engineering is required to achieve efficient malate production with this yeast. A promising pathway for malate production from glucose proceeds via carboxylation of pyruvate, followed by reduction of oxaloacetate to malate. This redox- and ATP-neutral, CO2-fixing pathway has a theoretical maximum yield of 2 mol malate (mol glucose)¿1. A previously engineered glucose-tolerant, C2-independent pyruvate decarboxylase-negative S. cerevisiae strain was used as the platform to evaluate the impact of individual and combined introduction of three genetic modifications: (i) overexpression of the native pyruvate carboxylase encoded by PYC2, (ii) high-level expression of an allele of the MDH3 gene, of which the encoded malate dehydrogenase was retargeted to the cytosol by deletion of the C-terminal peroxisomal targeting sequence, and (iii) functional expression of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe malate transporter gene SpMAE1. While single or double modifications improved malate production, the highest malate yields and titers were obtained with the simultaneous introduction of all three modifications. In glucose-grown batch cultures, the resulting engineered strain produced malate at titers of up to 59 g liter¿1 at a malate yield of 0.42 mol (mol glucose)¿1. Metabolic flux analysis showed that metabolite labeling patterns observed upon nuclear magnetic resonance analyses of cultures grown on 13C-labeled glucose were consistent with the envisaged nonoxidative, fermentative pathway for malate production. The engineered strains still produced substantial amounts of pyruvate, indicating that the pathway efficiency can be further improved
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