Increased production of zeaxanthin and other pigments by application of genetic engineering techniques to Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803

Delphine Lagarde, Laurent Beuf, Willem Vermaas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


The psbAII locus was used as an integration platform to overexpress genes involved in carotenoid biosynthesis in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 under the control of the strong psbAII promoter. The sequences of the genes encoding the yeast isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (ipi) and the Synechocystis β- carotene hydroxylase (crtR) and the linked Synechocystis genes coding for phytoene desaturase and phytoene synthase (crtP and crtB, respectively) were introduced into Synechocystis, replacing the psbAII coding sequence. Expression of ipi, crtR, and crtP and crtB led to a large increase in the corresponding transcript levels in the mutant strains, showing that the psbAII promoter can be used to drive transcription and to overexpress various genes in Synechocystis. Overexpression of crtP and crtB led to a 50% increase in the myxoxanthophyll and zeaxanthin contents in the mutant strain, whereas the β-carotene and echinenone contents remained unchanged. Overexpression of crtR induced a 2.5-fold increase in zeaxanthin accumulation in the corresponding overexpressing mutant compared to that in the wild-type strain. In this mutant strain, zeaxanthin becomes the major pigment (more than half the total amount of carotenoid) and the β-carotene and echinenone amounts are reduced by a factor of 2. However, overexpression of ipi did not result in a change in the carotenoid content of the mutant. To further alter the carotenoid content of Synechocystis, the crtO gene, encoding β-carotene ketolase, which converts β-carotene to echinenone, was disrupted in the wild type and in the overexpressing strains so that they no longer produced echinenone. In this way, by a combination of overexpression and deletion of particular genes, the carotenoid content of cyanobacteria can be altered significantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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