Microbial production of imino sugars

01 November 2019 → 31 October 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Computational evolutionary biology, comparative genomics and population genomics
    • Synthetic biology
    • Metabolomics
  • Engineering and technology
    • Industrial microbiology
Project description

Iminosugars and their health-improving capacities have been known for many decades, yet their exact function is poorly understood and their application potential far from fully exploited, mainly due to their restricted availability. With chemical synthesis and plant extraction having low yields and no access to a microbial production platform, iminosugars remain until this day almost unaffordable, even for the use in medicine. The aim of this project is to create efficient microbial production platforms (baker's yeast and E. coli) for the biosynthesis of these interesting natural products. A first goal will be to produce an important intermediate of the biosynthetic pathway of swainsonine, which is known to be an important branching point for the production of other iminosugars. A proof-of-concept by the production of swainsonine, whose gene cluster was recently elucidated, is the next step. Another major goal of this project is to pave the way towards the identification of the biosynthetic gene clusters of these interesting compounds, to date a major bottleneck for their biotechnological production. The clusters of slaframine and lentiginosine will be elucidated and their microbial production will be established to prove the generic aspect of the project’s strategy. Altogether, setting up a generic microbial production platform for these biomimetical compounds will facilitate exploiting their full potential in pharma, but also in the food industry, and in the agro-industry.