School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, UNIST, Ulsan 44919, Republic of Korea; School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Pusan National University, Busan 46241, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: [Email]
3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) is an important platform chemical, but its toxic effect at high concentrations (> 200 mM) is a serious challenge for commercial production. In this study, a highly 3-HP-tolerant strain of Escherichia coli W (tolerance concentration: 400 mM in M9 minimal medium and 800 mM when yeast extract was added) was developed by adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) with glycerol as the carbon source. Genome analysis of the adapted strain (designated as E. coli WA) indicated the presence of mutations in 13 genes, including glpK (glycerol kinase) and yieP (a less-studied global regulator). The mutant GlpK (K67T) exhibited a higher activity than the wild-type enzyme, but it was not beneficial for 3-HP production due to its causing carbon overflow metabolism. Interestingly, among the other 12 genes, the mutation in yieP alone was almost fully responsible for the improved tolerance to 3-HP. When the mutant yieP was substituted with the wild-type counterpart, the adapted E. coli WA strain completely lost its tolerance to 3-HP, showing a tolerance similar to the wild-type W strain. Deletion of yieP conferred 3-HP tolerance to several other E. coli strains including K-12 W3110, K-12 MG1655, and B except BL21 (DE3). The E. coli WA with wild-type glpK showed, as compared with its parental strain, better 3-HP production, indicating that improved tolerance is beneficial for 3-HP production.