Bioproduction of methylated phenylpropenes and isoeugenol in Escherichia coli

Jeremy Chua, Erik K. R. Hanko, Andrew Yiakoumetti, Ruth S. Stoney, Jakub Chromy, Kris Nino G. Valdehuesa, Katherine A. Hollywood, Cunyu Yan, Eriko Takano, Rainer Breitling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phenylpropenes are a class of natural products that are synthesised by a vast range of plant species and hold considerable promise in the flavour and fragrance industries. Many in vitro studies have been carried out to elucidate and characterise the enzymes responsible for the production of these volatile
compounds. However, there is a scarcity of studies demonstrating the in vivo production of phenylpropenes in microbial cell factories. In this study, we engineered Escherichia coli to produce methylchavicol, methyleugenol and isoeugenol from their respective phenylacrylic acid precursors. We achieved this by extending and modifying a previously optimised heterologous pathway for the
biosynthesis of chavicol and eugenol. We explored the potential of six S-adenosyl L-methionine (SAM)-dependent O-methyltransferases to produce methylchavicol and methyleugenol from chavicol and eugenol, respectively. Additionally, we examined two isoeugenol synthases for the production of isoeugenol from coniferyl acetate. The best-performing strains in this study were able to achieve titres of 13 mg L−1 methylchavicol, 59 mg L−1 methyleugenol and 361 mg L−1  isoeugenol after feeding with their appropriate phenylacrylic acid substrates. We were able to further increase the methyleugenol titre to 117 mg L−1 by supplementation with methionine to facilitate SAM recycling. Moreover, we report
the biosynthesis of methylchavicol and methyleugenol from L-tyrosine through pathways involving six and eight enzymatic steps, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetabolic Engineering Communications
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 May 2024


  • Phenylpropene
  • Biosynthesis
  • Escherichia coli
  • SAM-dependent O-methyltransferase
  • Methyleugenol


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