Improvement of Squalene Production from CO2 in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 by Metabolic Engineering and Scalable Production in a Photobioreactor

Sun Young Choi, Jin Young Wang, Ho Seok Kwak, Sun Mi Lee, Youngsoon Um, Yunje Kim, Sang Jun Sim, Jong Il Choi, Han Min Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The push-and-pull strategy for metabolic engineering was successfully demonstrated in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, a model photosynthetic bacterium, to produce squalene from CO2. Squalene synthase (SQS) was fused to either a key enzyme (farnesyl diphosphate synthase) of the methylerythritol phosphate pathway or the β-subunit of phycocyanin (CpcB1). Engineered cyanobacteria with expression of a fusion CpcB1-SQS protein showed a squalene production level (7.16 ± 0.05 mg/L/OD730) that was increased by 1.8-fold compared to that of the control strain expressing SQS alone. To increase squalene production further, the gene dosage for CpcB1·SQS protein expression was increased and the fusion protein was expressed under a strong promoter, yielding 11.98 ± 0.49 mg/L/OD730 of squalene, representing a 3.1-fold increase compared to the control. Subsequently, the best squalene producer was cultivated in a scalable photobioreactor (6 L) with light optimization, which produced 7.08 ± 0.5 mg/L/OD730 squalene (equivalent to 79.2 mg per g dry cell weight). Further optimization for photobioprocessing and strain development will promote the construction of a solar-to-chemical platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1295
Number of pages7
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul 21

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Korea CCS R&D Center (KCRC) (2014M1A8A1049277, 2014M1A8A1049278) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (2017R1A2B2002566) funded by the Korean Government (2016 University-Institute Cooperation program). This work was also partially supported by a Golden Seed Project (213008-05-1-WT911) grant funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • CO conversion
  • Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942
  • metabolic engineering
  • protein engineering
  • scalable production
  • squalene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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