Stereospecific microbial conversion of lactic acid into 1,2-propanediol

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16 Scopus citations


Biocatalytic syntheses are increasingly explored as the alternate platform of chemical production in order to address the sustainable development challenge faced by the current chemical industry. Here, we report the design and implementation of an artificial pathway to convert lactic acid into 1,2-propanediol. It circumvents a highly cytotoxic intermediate that exists in a widely used natural pathway. We identified and characterized a key enzyme that catalyzed the nonnatural step of the pathway. After 72 h of cultivation under shake-flask conditions, an Escherichia coli biocatalyst expressing the artificial route synthesized 1.5 g/L of R- or 1.7 g/L of S-1,2-propanediol from d- or l- lactic acid at high enantiomeric purity, respectively. The bioconversion is part of a novel biosynthetic pathway that can be further incorporated into appropriate microbial hosts for the de novo synthesis of optically pure 1,2-propanediol from renewable feedstocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-382
Number of pages5
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 17 2015


  • 1,2-propanediol
  • artificial pathway
  • biocatalysis
  • lactic acid
  • stereospecific

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)

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