Animal-free heme production for artificial meat in Corynebacterium glutamicum via systems metabolic and membrane engineering

Young Jin Ko, Minhye Kim, Seung Kyou You, Sang Kyu Shin, Joonhee Chang, Hae Jin Choi, Wu Young Jeong, Myeong Eun Lee, Dong Hyeok Hwang, Sung Ok Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, heme has attracted much attention as a main ingredient that mimics meat flavor in artificial meat in the food industry. Here, we developed Corynebacterium glutamicum capable of high-yield production of heme with systems metabolic engineering and modification of membrane surface. The combination of two precursor pathways based on thermodynamic information increased carbon flux toward heme and porphyrin intermediate biosynthesis. The co-overexpression of genes involved in a noncanonical downstream pathway and the gene encoding the transcriptional regulator DtxR significantly enhanced heme production. The overexpression of the putative heme exporters, knockout of heme-binding proteins, modification of the cell wall by chemical treatment, and reduction of intermediate UP III substantially improved heme secretion. The fed-batch fermentation showed a maximum heme titer of 309.18 ± 16.43 mg l−1, including secreted heme of 242.95 ± 11.45 mg l−1, a yield on glucose of 0.61 mmol mol−1, and productivity of 6.44 mg l−1h−1, which are the highest values reported to date. These results demonstrate that engineered C. glutamicum can be an attractive cell factory for animal-free heme production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalMetabolic engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul


  • Corynebacterium glutamicum
  • Heme
  • Membrane engineering
  • Noncanonical heme biosynthesis pathway
  • Systems metabolic engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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