Ethanol is still one of the most important products originating from the biotechnological industry with respect to both value and amount. In addition to ethanol, a number of byproducts are formed during an anaerobic fermentation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. One of the most important of these compounds, glycerol, is produced by yeast to reoxidize NADH, formed in synthesis of biomass and secondary fermentation products, to NAD+. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a reduced formation of surplus NADH and an increased consumption of ATP in biosynthesis would result in a decreased glycerol yield and an increased ethanol yield in anaerobic cultivations of S. cerevisiae. A yeast strain was constructed in which GLN1, encoding glutamine synthetase, and GLT1, encoding glutamate synthase, were overexpressed, and GDH1, encoding the NADPH-dependent glutamate dehydrogenase, was deleted. Hereby the normal NADPH-consuming synthesis of glutamate from ammonium and 2-oxoglutarate was substituted by a new pathway in which ATP and NADH were consumed. The resulting strain TN19 (gdh1-A1 PGK1p-GLT1 PGK1p-GLN1) had a 10% higher ethanol yield and a 38% lower glycerol yield compared to the wild type in anaerobic batch fermentations. The maximum specific growth rate of strain TN19 was slightly lower than the wild-type value, but earlier results suggest that this can be circumvented by increasing the specific activities of Gln1p and Glt1p even more. Thus, the results verify the proposed concept of increasing the ethanol yield in S. cerevisiae by metabolic engineering of pathways involved in biomass synthesis.
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