Substrate promiscuity of polyketide synthase enables production of tsetse fly attractants 3-ethylphenol and 3-propylphenol by engineering precursor supply in yeast

  • Tsetse flies are the transmitting vector of trypanosomes causing human sleeping sickness and animal trypanosomiasis in sub-saharan Africa. 3-alkylphenols are used as attractants in tsetse fly traps to reduce the spread of the disease. Here we present an inexpensive production method for 3-ethylphenol (3-EP) and 3-propylphenol (3-PP) by microbial fermentation of sugars. Heterologous expression in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae of phosphopantetheinyltransferase-activated 6-methylsalicylic acid (6-MSA) synthase (MSAS) and 6-MSA decarboxylase converted acetyl-CoA as a priming unit via 6-MSA into 3-methylphenol (3-MP). We exploited the substrate promiscuity of MSAS to utilize propionyl-CoA and butyryl-CoA as alternative priming units and the substrate promiscuity of 6-MSA decarboxylase to produce 3-EP and 3-PP in yeast fermentations. Increasing the formation of propionyl-CoA by expression of a bacterial propionyl-CoA synthetase, feeding of propionate and blocking propionyl-CoA degradation led to the production of up to 12.5 mg/L 3-EP. Introduction of a heterologous ‘reverse ß-oxidation’ pathway provided enough butyryl-CoA for the production of 3-PP, reaching titers of up to 2.6 mg/L. As the concentrations of 3-alkylphenols are close to the range of the concentrations deployed in tsetse fly traps, the yeast broths might become promising and inexpensive sources for attractants, producible on site by rural communities in Africa.

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Author:Julia HitschlerGND, Martin GriningerORCiDGND, Eckhard BolesORCiD
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Scientific reports
Publisher:Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2020
Date of first Publication:2020/06/19
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/06/24
Tag:Applied microbiology; Metabolic engineering; Molecular biology
Issue:1, Art. 9962
Page Number:11
First Page:1
Last Page:11
Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Institutes:Biochemie, Chemie und Pharmazie / Biochemie und Chemie
Biowissenschaften / Biowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0