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Overproduction of rhamnolipids in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 by redirection of the carbon flux from polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis and overexpression of the rhlAB-R operon

Gutiérrez-Gómez, Uriel, Soto-Aceves, Martín P., Servín-González, Luis, Soberón-Chávez, Gloria
Biotechnology letters 2018 v.40 no.11-12 pp. 1561-1566
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, biosurfactants, carbon, enzymes, fatty acids, gene overexpression, mutants, operon, polyhydroxyalkanoates, rhamnolipids, transcription factors
OBJECTIVE: To construct Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 derivatives that overproduce rhamnolipids (RL) by blocking the synthesis of the carbon-storage polymer polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and by overexpressing the rhlAB-R operon that encodes for enzymes of RL synthesis and the RhlR transcriptional regulator. RESULTS: In contrast to previous results showing that overexpression of rhlAB-R genes in two P. aeruginosa strains (PAO1 and ATCC 9027) is sufficient to overproduce RL, we show that a PA14 derivative overexpressing the rhlAB-R operon did not increase the synthesis of these biosurfactants. In addition, PA14 mutants deficient in PHA production did not overproduce RL either. However, if the rhlAB-R genes were expressed in a mutant that is completely impaired in PHA synthesis, a significant increase in RL production was observed (59%). These results show that RL production in PA14 is limited both by the availability of fatty acid precursors and by the levels of the RhlA and RhlB enzymes that are involved in the synthesis of mono-RL. CONCLUSIONS: The limitation of RL production by P. aeruginosa PA14 is multifactorial and diverse from the results obtained with other strains. Thus, the factors that limit RL production are particular to each P. aeruginosa strain, so strain-specific strategies should be developed to increase their production.