Light-driven fine chemical production in yeast biohybrids

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Science  16 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6416, pp. 813-816
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat9777

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Light-powered cell factories

Bacteria and fungi are used industrially to produce commodity fine chemicals at vast scale. Sugars are an economical feedstock, but many of the desired products require enzymatic reduction, meaning that some of the sugar must be diverted to regenerate the cellular reductant NADPH (reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate). Guo et al. show that electrons from light-sensitive nanoparticles can drive reduction of cellular NADPH in yeast, which can then be used for reductive biosynthetic reactions. This system can reduce diversion of carbon to NADPH regeneration and should be compatible with many existing engineered strains of yeast.

Science, this issue p. 813


Inorganic-biological hybrid systems have potential to be sustainable, efficient, and versatile chemical synthesis platforms by integrating the light-harvesting properties of semiconductors with the synthetic potential of biological cells. We have developed a modular bioinorganic hybrid platform that consists of highly efficient light-harvesting indium phosphide nanoparticles and genetically engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a workhorse microorganism in biomanufacturing. The yeast harvests photogenerated electrons from the illuminated nanoparticles and uses them for the cytosolic regeneration of redox cofactors. This process enables the decoupling of biosynthesis and cofactor regeneration, facilitating a carbon- and energy-efficient production of the metabolite shikimic acid, a common precursor for several drugs and fine chemicals. Our work provides a platform for the rational design of biohybrids for efficient biomanufacturing processes with higher complexity and functionality.

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