Bioprospecting of native efflux pumps to enhance furfural tolerance in ethanologenic Escherichia coli

Gavin Kurgan, Larry A. Panyon, Yesenia Rodriguez-Sanchez, Eric Pacheco, Lizbeth M. Nieves, Robert Mann, David Nielsen, Xuan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Efficient microbial conversion of lignocellulose into valuable products is often hindered by the presence of furfural, a dehydration product of pentoses in hemicellulose sugar syrups derived from woody biomass. For a cost-effective lignocellulose microbial conversion, robust biocatalysts are needed that can tolerate toxic inhibitors while maintaining optimal metabolic activities. A comprehensive plasmidbased library encoding native multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps, porins, and select exporters from Escherichia coli was screened for furfural tolerance in an ethanologenic E. coli strain. Small multidrug resistance (SMR) pumps, such as SugE and MdtJI, as well as a lactate/glycolate:H+ symporter, LldP, conferred furfural tolerance in liquid culture tests. Expression of the SMR pump potentially increased furfural efflux and cellular viability upon furfural assault, suggesting novel activities for SMR pumps as furfural efflux proteins. Furthermore, induced expression of mdtJI enhanced ethanol fermentative production of LY180 in the presence of furfural or 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, further demonstrating the applications of SMR pumps. This work describes an effective approach to identify useful efflux systems with desired activities for nonnative toxic chemicals and provides a platform to further enhance furfural efflux by protein engineering and mutagenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02985-18
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Escherichia coli
  • Furfural
  • Lignocellulose
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Multidrug resistance pumps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'Bioprospecting of native efflux pumps to enhance furfural tolerance in ethanologenic Escherichia coli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this