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J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2005; 15(1): 206-215

Published online February 28, 2005

Copyright © The Korean Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Short-Chain-Length Polyhydroxyalkanoates: Synthesis in Metabolically Engineered Escherichia coli and Medical Applications

Si Jae Park , Jong Il Choi and Sang Yup Lee 1*

Metabolic and Biomolecular Engineering National Research Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineeringand BioProcess Engineering Research Center, 1Department of BioSystems and Bioinformatics Research Center Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology 373-1Guseong-dong Yuseong-gu Daejeon 305-701 Korea

Abstract

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are homo or hetero polyesters of (R)-hydroxyalkanoates accumulated in various microorganisms under growth-limiting condition in the presence of excess carbon source. They have been suggested as biodegradable substitutes for chemically synthesized polymers. Recombinant Escherichia coli is one of the promising host strains for the economical production of PHAs, and has been extensively investigated for the process development. The heterologous PHA biosynthetic pathways have been established through the metabolic engineering and inherent metabolic pathways of E. coli have been redirected to supply PHA precursors. Fermentation strategies for cultivating these recombinant E. coli strains have also been developed for the efficient production of PHAs. Nowadays, short-chain-length (SCL) PHAs are being re-invited due to its improved mechanical properties and possible applications in the biomedical area. In this article, recent advances in the development of metabolically engineered E. coli strains for the enhanced production of SCL-PHAs are reviewed. Also, medical applications of SCL-PHAs are discussed.

Keywords: Short-chain-LengthPHA, E.coli, metabolicengineering, medicalapplication