Engineering a Lysine-ON Riboswitch for Metabolic Control of Lysine Production in Corynebacterium glutamicum: Targeting Riboswitches for Metabolic Engineering

Meiers Dixon

Meiers Dixon

Feb 20, 20243 min read

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Engineering a Lysine-ON Riboswitch for Metabolic Control of Lysine Production in Corynebacterium glutamicum: Targeting Riboswitches for Metabolic Engineering

Riboswitches have emerged as powerful tools in metabolic engineering, allowing for precise control over gene expression in response to specific metabolite concentrations. The ability to engineer riboswitches holds great promise for enhancing the production of industrially relevant compounds, such as lysine. In the study "Engineering a Lysine-ON Riboswitch for Metabolic Control of Lysine Production in Corynebacterium glutamicum," researchers successfully integrated a lysine-ON riboswitch into the chromosome of C. glutamicum to upregulate the expression of a lysine secretion-related gene, lysE, in response to lysine concentration.

The use of riboswitches in metabolic engineering is not limited to C. glutamicum. In fact, in Bacillus subtilis, there are 41 identified riboswitches that regulate approximately 2% of all genes, many of which are involved in the biosynthesis of industrially relevant compounds. However, it is important to note that simply deleting riboswitches to achieve constitutive expression can have severe consequences, leading to a significant decrease in gene expression. Therefore, a more targeted approach is required to harness the potential of riboswitches for metabolic engineering.

One method to target riboswitches is through the use of synthetic small RNAs. These small RNAs can be designed to specifically bind to the aptamer region of a riboswitch and modulate its activity. By introducing synthetic small RNAs that mimic the ligand-binding state of the riboswitch, it is possible to activate gene expression even in the absence of the target metabolite. This approach offers a way to overcome the limitations of constitutive expression while still maintaining control over gene expression.

Incorporating synthetic small RNAs into metabolic engineering strategies opens up new possibilities for optimizing production pathways. By fine-tuning the activity of riboswitches, it is possible to precisely regulate the expression of genes involved in the biosynthesis of target compounds. This level of control allows for the optimization of production rates, ensuring that resources are efficiently utilized and minimizing the accumulation of unwanted byproducts. Additionally, the ability to dynamically control gene expression in response to changing metabolite concentrations can improve the overall stability and robustness of engineered strains.

While the use of synthetic small RNAs in riboswitch engineering is still in its early stages, there are several actionable pieces of advice that can be derived from the current research. First, it is important to thoroughly understand the natural riboswitches present in the target organism before attempting to engineer new ones. By studying the function and regulation of native riboswitches, researchers can gain valuable insights into the design principles that govern riboswitch activity.

Second, it is crucial to optimize the design of synthetic small RNAs for efficient binding to the target riboswitch. This involves careful selection of the RNA sequence and structure to ensure strong and specific binding. Additionally, the delivery method of synthetic small RNAs must be considered to ensure efficient uptake and expression in the target organism. Developing efficient delivery strategies will be key to the successful implementation of synthetic small RNAs in metabolic engineering.

Lastly, it is important to consider the potential unintended consequences of riboswitch engineering. While the integration of lysine-ON riboswitches in C. glutamicum resulted in increased lysine production, there may be unforeseen negative effects that arise from the engineering process. To mitigate these risks, thorough characterization and screening of engineered strains is necessary to identify any potential drawbacks and optimize the performance of the system.

In conclusion, the engineering of riboswitches holds great potential for metabolic control in microbial production systems. By utilizing synthetic small RNAs, it is possible to precisely regulate gene expression in response to specific metabolite concentrations, allowing for the optimization of production pathways. However, careful consideration must be given to the design, delivery, and potential risks associated with riboswitch engineering. With further research and development, riboswitches and synthetic small RNAs have the potential to revolutionize metabolic engineering and enable the production of valuable compounds with greater efficiency and control.

Resource:

  1. "Engineering a Lysine-ON Riboswitch for Metabolic Control of Lysine Production in Corynebacterium glutamicum", https://pubs.acs.org/doi/epdf/10.1021/acssynbio.5b00075 (Glasp)
  2. "Targeting riboswitches with synthetic small RNAs for metabolic engineering - 2021.06.21.449321.full.pdf", https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2021/06/21/2021.06.21.449321.full.pdf (Glasp)

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