Improved production of cytotoxic thailanstatins A and D through metabolic engineering of Burkholderia thailandensis MSMB43 and pilot scale fermentation

Xiangyang Liu, Hui Zhu, Sreya Biswas, Yi Qiang Cheng

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Thailanstatin A (TST-A) is a potent antiproliferative natural product discovered by our group from Burkholderia thailandensis MSMB43 through a genome-guided approach. The limited supply of TST-A, due to its low titer in bacterial fermentation, modest stability and very low recovery rate during purification, has hindered the investigations of TST-A as an anticancer drug candidate. Herewe report the significant yield improvement of TST-A and its direct precursor, thailanstatin D (TST-D), through metabolic engineering of the thailanstatin biosynthetic pathway in MSMB43. Deletion of tstP, which encodes a dioxygenase involved in converting TST-A to downstream products including FR901464 (FR), resulted in 58% increase of the TST-A titer to 144.7 ± 2.3 mg/L and 132% increase of the TST-D titer to 14.6 ± 0.5 mg/L in the fermentation broth, respectively. Deletion of tstR, which encodes a cytochrome P450 involved in converting TST-D to TST-A, resulted in more than 7-fold increase of the TST-D titer to 53.2 ± 12.1 mg/L in the fermentation broth. An execution of 90 L pilot-scale fed-batch fermentation of the tstP deletion mutant in a 120-L fermentor led to the preparation of 714 mg of TST-A with greater than 98.5% purity. The halflife of TST-D in a phosphate buffer was found to be at least 202 h, significantly longer than that of TST-A or FR, suggesting superior stability. However, the IC50 values of TST-D against representative human cancer cell lines were determined to be greater than those of TST-A, indicating weaker antiproliferative activity. This work enabled us to prepare sufficient quantities of TST-A and TST-D for our ongoing translational research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
JournalSynthetic and Systems Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016



  • Fermentation
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Natural product
  • Production
  • Thailanstatin

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