Albert Qiang L&S Sciences
Tuning Effects of Plasmid Copy Number on E. coli Biosynthesis
Metabolically engineering living organisms to synthesize chemicals is an exciting alternative to traditional production pipelines, allowing for the sustainable and scalable production of a wide array of useful compounds. However, dramatically altering the fundamental chemical behavior of organisms by introducing new biosynthetic pathways can often have unintended consequences on cellular growth. The expression of an unnatural pathway consumes valuable cellular resources, an effect known as metabolic burden that ultimately limits overall production. My research project seeks to better characterize the effect metabolic burden has on an existing engineered biosynthetic pathway producing butanol, a next-generation biofuel. In order to accomplish this, we propose the development and application of a system to manually tune plasmid copy number within a cell. After examining the butanol pathway, we plan to expand the scope of our system to pathways producing 1,3 butanediol, 4-hydroxy-2-butanone, and amorphadiene. This work will offer a generalizable approach to optimizing production levels and a framework for understanding the constraints of such a strategy.