Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Publication Date





Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) is an important enzyme that links primary metabolism to secondary metabolism. Its efficiency is often a critical factor that affects the overall flux of a related metabolic pathway, the titer of the final products, and the efficacy of PAL-based therapies. Thus, PAL is a common target for metabolic engineering and it is of significant interest to screen efficient PALs for industrial and medical applications. In this study, a novel and efficient visible reporter assay for screening of PAL efficiency in Escherichia coli was established based on a plant type III polyketide biosynthetic pathway. The candidate PALs were co-expressed with a 4-coumarate:CoA ligase 4CL1 from Arabidopsis thaliana and curcuminoid synthase (CUS) from Oryza sativa in E. coli BL21(DE3) to form a dicinnamoylmethane biosynthetic pathway. Taking advantage of the yellow color of the product, a microplate-based assay was designed to measure the titer of dicinnamoylmethane, which was validated by HPLC analysis. The different titers of the product reflect the overall performance (expression level and enzymatic activity) of the individual PALs in E. coli. Using this system, we have screened three PALs (PAL1, PAL3 and PAL4) from Trifolium pratense, among which PAL1 showed the best performance in E. coli. The engineered E. coli strain containing PAL1, 4CL1 and CUS led to the production of dicinnamoylmethane at a high level of 0.36 g/l. Supplement of 2-fluoro-phenylalanine yielded two fluorinated dicinnamoylmethane derivatives, 6,6'-difluoro-dicinnamoylmethane and 6-fluoro-dicinnamoylmethane, of which the latter is a new curcuminoid.


Originally published by Springer in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.



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