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Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Microbiol., 04 April 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00075

Microbial production of isoprenoids enabled by synthetic biology

  • Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO, USA

Microorganisms transform inexpensive carbon sources into highly functionalized compounds without toxic by-product generation or significant energy consumption. By redesigning the natural biosynthetic pathways in an industrially suited host, microbial cell factories can produce complex compounds for a variety of industries. Isoprenoids include many medically important compounds such as antioxidants and anticancer and antimalarial drugs, all of which have been produced microbially. While a biosynthetic pathway could be simply transferred to the production host, the titers would become economically feasible when it is rationally designed, built, and optimized through synthetic biology tools. These tools have been implemented by a number of research groups, with new tools pledging further improvements in yields and expansion to new medically relevant compounds. This review focuses on the microbial production of isoprenoids for the health industry and the advancements though synthetic biology.

Keywords: microbial biosynthesis, synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, isoprenoids, health industry

Citation: Immethun CM, Hoynes-O’Connor AG, Balassy A and Moon TS (2013) Microbial production of isoprenoids enabled by synthetic biology. Front. Microbiol. 4:75. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00075

Received: 31 January 2013; Accepted: 14 March 2013;
Published online: 04 April 2013.

Edited by:

David Nielsen, Arizona State University, USA

Reviewed by:

Ian Wheeldon, University of California Riverside, USA
Danielle Tullman-Ercek, University of California Berkeley, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Immethun, Hoynes-O’Connor, Balassy and Moon. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Tae Seok Moon, Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, Box 1180, 1 Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA. e-mail: tsmoon@seas.wustl.edu