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Engineering Yeast Cell Factories for Production of High-Value Isoprenoids

Isoprenoids comprise a large family of metabolites with various industrially-useful functions including biofuels, flavors, fragrances, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. These metabolites are often produced in nature by organisms that are not optimal for industrial production. For example, many useful isoprenoids that are plant-derived are often found only in low levels in plants and are obtained by complex extraction procedures. Rising demands for such compounds, as well as the environmental impact associated with plant-based extraction creates a need for alternative production routes.

Reconstruction of plant biosynthetic pathways for valuable compounds in microbes provides a promising alternative to plant-based extraction. The yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, makes for a particularly attractive host. It is a well-known and robust industrial organism, has a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) status, is easily manipulated genetically and is able to functionally express eukaryotic cytochrome P450 enzymes. Our group makes use of different metabolic engineering approaches to construct yeast cell factories for production of industrially-relevant isoprenoid compounds including various sesquiterpenes, diterpenes and triterpenes. Our most recent advances in this field are presented.