Production of L-DOPA and dopamine in recombinant bacteria bearing the Vitreoscilla hemoglobin gene



Given the well-established beneficial effects of Vitreoscilla hemoglobin (VHb) on heterologous organisms, the potential of this protein for the production of L-DOPA and dopamine in two bacteria, Citrobacter freundii and Erwinia herbicola, was investigated. The constructed recombinants bearing the VHb gene (vgb+) had substantially higher levels of cytoplasmic L-DOPA (112 mg/L for C. freundii and 97 mg/L for E. herbicola) than their respective hosts (30.4 and 33.8 mg/L) and the vgb control strains (35.6 and 35.8 mg/L). Further, the vgb+ recombinants of C. freundii and E. herbicola had 20-fold and about two orders of magnitude higher dopamine levels than their hosts, repectively. The activity of tyrosine phenol-lyase, the enzyme converting L-tyrosine to L-DOPA, was well-correlated to cytoplasmic L-DOPA levels. As cultures aged, higher tyrosine phenol-lyase activity of the vgb+ strains was more apparent.