Engineering the synthetic β-alanine pathway in Komagataella phaffii for conversion of methanol into 3-hydroxypropionic acid

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Background: Methanol is increasingly gaining attraction as renewable carbon source to produce specialty and commodity chemicals, as it can be generated from renewable sources such as carbon dioxide (CO 2). In this context, native methylotrophs such as the yeast Komagataella phaffii (syn Pichia pastoris) are potentially attractive cell factories to produce a wide range of products from this highly reduced substrate. However, studies addressing the potential of this yeast to produce bulk chemicals from methanol are still scarce. 3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) is a platform chemical which can be converted into acrylic acid and other commodity chemicals and biopolymers. 3-HP can be naturally produced by several bacteria through different metabolic pathways. Results: In this study, production of 3-HP via the synthetic β-alanine pathway has been established in K. phaffii for the first time by expressing three heterologous genes, namely panD from Tribolium castaneum, yhxA from Bacillus cereus, and ydfG from Escherichia coli K-12. The expression of these key enzymes allowed a production of 1.0 g l −1 of 3-HP in small-scale cultivations using methanol as substrate. The addition of a second copy of the panD gene and selection of a weak promoter to drive expression of the ydfG gene in the PpCβ21 strain resulted in an additional increase in the final 3-HP titer (1.2 g l −1). The 3-HP-producing strains were further tested in fed-batch cultures. The best strain (PpCβ21) achieved a final 3-HP concentration of 21.4 g l −1 after 39 h of methanol feeding, a product yield of 0.15 g g −1, and a volumetric productivity of 0.48 g l −1 h −1. Further engineering of this strain aiming at increasing NADPH availability led to a 16% increase in the methanol consumption rate and 10% higher specific productivity compared to the reference strain PpCβ21. Conclusions: Our results show the potential of K. phaffii as platform cell factory to produce organic acids such as 3-HP from renewable one-carbon feedstocks, achieving the highest volumetric productivities reported so far for a 3-HP production process through the β-alanine pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number237
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023


  • 3‑Hydroxypropionic acid
  • Pichia pastoris
  • Komagataella phaffii
  • Methanol
  • β‑Alanine pathway
  • Metabolic engineering


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