Background: Styrene and its derivatives as monomers and petroleum-based feedstocks are valuable as raw materials in industrial processes. The chemical reaction for styrene production uses harsh reaction conditions such as high temperatures or pressures, or requires base catalysis with microwave heating. On the other hand, production of styrene and its derivatives in Escherichia coli is an environmental friendly process to produce conventional petroleum-based feedstocks. Results: An artificial biosynthetic pathway was developed in E. coli that yields 4-hydroxystyrene, 3,4-dihydroxystyrene and 4-hydroxy-3-methoxystyrene from simple carbon sources. This artificial biosynthetic pathway has a codon-optimized phenolic acid decarboxylase (pad) gene from Bacillus and some of the phenolic acid biosynthetic genes. E. coli strains with the tal and pad genes, the tal, sam5, and pad genes, and the tal, sam5, com, and pad genes produced 4-hydroxystyrene, 3,4-dihydroxystyrene and 4-hydorxy-3-methoxystyrene, respectively. Furthermore, these pathways were expressed in a tyrosine overproducing E. coli. The yields for 4-hydroxystyrene, 3,4-dihydroxystyrene and 4-hydorxy-3-methoxystyrene reached 355, 63, and 64 mg/L, respectively, in shaking flasks after 36 h of cultivation. Conclusions: Our system is the first to use E. coli with artificial biosynthetic pathways for the de novo synthesis of 3,4-dihydroxystyrene and 4-hydroxy-3-methoxystyrene in a simple glucose medium. Similar approaches using microbial synthesis from simple sugar could be useful in the synthesis of plant-based aromatic chemicals.
- De novo Biosynthesis