Crop Biotech Update

Improving Betulinic Acid Production in Betula platyphylla

August 31, 2016

Betulinic acid (BA) is a lupane-type triterpene which is a promising agent to cure melanoma. BA is naturally-produced in plants and previous studies have reported the success of BA production in yeast. Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers Chen Zhou and Jing Li attempt to improve BA synthesis in yeast using different strategies.

The team first isolated BPLO, a gene encoding a lupeol C-28 oxidase (LO) from Betula platyphylla. BPLO showed a higher activity in BA biosynthesis compared to other LOs. Two yeast platforms were also compared for engineering the production of BA. Analysis showed that the WAT11 strain was a better host for the BA pathway than the CEN.PK strain. Using the WAT11 strain and the BPLO gene, the Gal80p mutant was developed. The mutant produced 2.2 times the amount of BA that wild types strain produce.

The team improved BA production in yeast via multiple strategies, including the use of a novel LO enzyme with a higher activity and choosing a better host for the BA pathway.

For more on this study, read the full article in BMC Biotechnology.