This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project proposes to establish cost effective methodologies for the efficient production of catechins utilizing a microbial fermentation approach. Preliminary work on the biosynthesis of the catechins, using metabolically engineered Escherichia coli recombinant strains from their flavanone and phenylpropanoid acid precursors, has demonstrated feasibility of this bio-economic approach. Elucidating the possible biochemical regulation of the flavan-3-ol biosynthetic pathway, and optimizing the expression of the biosynthetic enzymes, will result in improving the production of these important flavan-3-ol products. This microbial fermentation strategy will help enhance the production of such beneficial catechins through a biomanufactuing approach utilizing principles of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering and other emerging biotechnologies.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project, if successful, will be microbial production of catechins, which will benefit the environment and society. On the environmental front, the fermentation approach eliminates a solvent waste problem typically associated with extraction of catechins from botanicals. The proposed work will set the stage for understanding the biosynthetic pathway and result in a bioeconomic production of the catechins. Innovation and understanding of the biochemical pathways and expression optimization of the enzymes will help serve the potentially multi-billion dollar global market for high purity catechins as health care products, food ingredients, and other therapeutic applications.