Dr. Laura Jarboe, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and former Chair of the Interdepartmental Microbiology Program, has recently received a patent for “metabolic engineering of membrane proteins to improve E. coli membrane integrity and production of fatty acids”
Relevance of patent:
Construction of microbial biocatalysts for the production of biorenewables at economically viable yields and titers is frequently hampered by product toxicity. Membrane damage is often deemed as the principal mechanism of this toxicity, particularly in regards to decreased membrane integrity. Previous studies have attempted to engineer the membrane with the goal of increasing membrane integrity. However, most of these works focused on engineering of phospholipids and efforts to identify membrane proteins that can be targeted to improve fatty acid production have been unsuccessful.
The modulation of two distinct outer membrane proteins, membrane transporter protein FADL (long chain fatty acid outer membrane transporter) and OmpF (outer membrane porin F) in a precise manner can increase membrane integrity and final fatty acid titre in a synergistic manner. These modified strains exhibit up to 50% increase in fatty acid production.