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  • Transcriptional Reactivation of Lignin Biosynthesis for the Heterologous Production of Etoposide Aglycone in Nicotiana benthamiana. ACS synthetic biology Kim, S. S., Wengier, D. L., Ragland, C. J., Sattely, E. S. 2022


    Nicotiana benthamiana is a valuable plant chassis for heterologous production of medicinal plant natural products. This host is well suited for the processing of organelle-localized plant enzymes, and the conservation of the primary metabolism across the plant kingdom often provides required plant-specific precursor molecules that feed a given pathway. Despite this commonality in metabolism, limited precursor supply and/or competing host pathways can interfere with yields of heterologous products. Here, we use transient transcriptional reprogramming of endogenous N. benthamiana metabolism to drastically improve flux through the etoposide pathway derived from the medicinal plant Podophyllum spp. Specifically, coexpression of a single lignin-associated transcription factor, MYB85, with pathway genes results in unprecedented levels of heterologous product accumulation in N. benthamiana leaves: 1 mg/g dry weight (DW) of the etoposide aglycone, 35 mg/g DW (-)-deoxypodophyllotoxin, and 3.5 mg/g DW (-)-epipodophyllotoxin─up to two orders of magnitude above previously reported biosynthetic yields for the etoposide aglycone and eight times higher than what is observed for (-)-deoxypodophyllotoxin in the native medicinal plant. Unexpectedly, transient activation of lignin metabolism by transcription factor overexpression also reduces the production of undesired side products that likely result from competing N. benthamiana metabolism. Our work demonstrates that synthetic activation of lignin biosynthesis in leaf tissue is an effective strategy for optimizing the production of medicinal compounds derived from phenylpropanoid precursors in the plant chassis N. benthamiana. Furthermore, our results highlight the engineering value of MYB85, an early switch in lignin biosynthesis, for on-demand modulation of monolignol flux and support the role of MYB46 as a master regulator of lignin polymer deposition.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acssynbio.2c00289

    View details for PubMedID 36122905