Engineering E. coli for caffeic acid biosynthesis from renewable sugars

Haoran Zhang, Gregory Stephanopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Caffeic acid is a valuable aromatic compound that possesses many important pharmacological activities. In structure, caffeic acid belongs to the hydroxycinnamic acid family and can be biosynthesized from the aromatic amino acid tyrosine. In the present paper, the caffeic acid biosynthesis pathway was reconstituted in engineered Escherichia coli to produce caffeic acid from simple biomass sugar glucose and xylose. Different engineering approaches were utilized to optimize the production. Specifically, two parallel biosynthesis routes leading from tyrosine to caffeic acid were studied. The copy number of the intermediate biosynthesis genes was varied to find appropriate gene doses for caffeic acid biosynthesis. Three different media, including a MOPS medium, a synthetic medium, and a rich medium, were also examined to improve the production. The highest specific caffeic acid production achieved was 38 mg/L/OD. Lastly, cultivation of engineered E. coli in a bioreactor resulted in a production of 106 mg/L caffeic acid after 4 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3333-3341
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


  • Caffeic acid
  • Escherichia coli
  • Heterologous biosynthesis
  • Tyrosine

Cite this