Metabolic control analysis enabled the improvement of the L-cysteine production process with Escherichia coli

Daniel Alejandro Caballero Cerbon, Jeremias Widmann, Dirk Weuster-Botz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Abstract: L-cysteine is an amino acid with relevance to the pharmaceutical, food, feed, and cosmetic industry. The environmental and societal impact of its chemical production has led to the development of more sustainable fermentative L-cysteine production processes with engineered E. coli based on glucose and thiosulfate as sulphur source. Still, most of the published processes show low yields. For the identification of further metabolic engineering targets, engineered E. coli cells were withdrawn from a fed-batch production process, followed by in vivo metabolic control analysis (MCA) based on the data of short-term perturbation experiments, metabolomics (LC–MS), and thermodynamic flux analysis (TFA). In vivo MCA indicated that the activities of the L-cysteine synthases of the cells withdrawn from the production process might be limiting, and we hypothesised that the L-cysteine precursor O-acetylserine (OAS) might be exported from the cells faster than it took to transform OAS into L-cysteine. By increasing the expression of the L-cysteine synthases, either sulfocysteine synthase or L-cysteine synthase, which transform OAS into L-cysteine, an improvement of up to 70% in specific L-cysteine productivity and up to 47% in the final L-cysteine concentration was achieved in standardised fed-batch processes thereby increasing the yield on glucose by more than 85 to 9.2% (w/w). Key points: • Metabolic control analysis was applied to analyse L-cysteine production with E.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Fed-batch fermentation
  • L-cysteine
  • Metabolic control analysis
  • Metabolomics
  • Short-term perturbation
  • Thermodynamic flux analysis


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