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Title: Directed evolution of phosphite dehydrogenase to cycle noncanonical redox cofactors via universal growth selection platform

Noncanonical redox cofactors are attractive low-cost alternatives to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (phosphate) (NAD(P)+) in biotransformation. However, engineering enzymes to utilize them is challenging. Here, we present a high-throughput directed evolution platform which couples cell growth to the in vivo cycling of a noncanonical cofactor, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN+). We achieve this by engineering the life-essential glutathione reductase inEscherichia colito exclusively rely on the reduced NMN+(NMNH). Using this system, we develop a phosphite dehydrogenase (PTDH) to cycle NMN+with ~147-fold improved catalytic efficiency, which translates to an industrially viable total turnover number of ~45,000 in cell-free biotransformation without requiring high cofactor concentrations. Moreover, the PTDH variants also exhibit improved activity with another structurally deviant noncanonical cofactor, 1-benzylnicotinamide (BNA+), showcasing their broad applications. Structural modeling prediction reveals a general design principle where the mutations and the smaller, noncanonical cofactors together mimic the steric interactions of the larger, natural cofactors NAD(P)+.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Noncanonical cofactor biomimetics (NCBs) such as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN+) provide enhanced scalability for biomanufacturing. However, engineering enzymes to accept NCBs is difficult. Here, we establish a growth selection platform to evolve enzymes to utilize NMN+-based reducing power. This is based on an orthogonal, NMN+-dependent glycolytic pathway inEscherichia coliwhich can be coupled to any reciprocal enzyme to recycle the ensuing reduced NMN+. With a throughput of >106variants per iteration, the growth selection discovers aLactobacillus pentosusNADH oxidase variant with ~10-fold increase in NMNH catalytic efficiency and enhanced activity for other NCBs. Molecular modeling and experimental validation suggest that instead of directly contacting NCBs, the mutations optimize the enzyme’s global conformational dynamics to resemble the WT with the native cofactor bound. Restoring the enzyme’s access to catalytically competent conformation states via deep navigation of protein sequence space with high-throughput evolution provides a universal route to engineer NCB-dependent enzymes.

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