• adipic acid;
  • biosynthesis;
  • beta-oxidation;
  • Escherichia coli;
  • synthetic biology


The C6 dicarboxylic acid, adipic acid, is an important platform chemical in industry. Biobased production of adipic acid is a promising alternative to the current petrochemical route. Here, we report biosynthesis of adipic acid using an artificial pathway inspired by the reversal of beta-oxidation of dicarboxylic acids. The biosynthetic pathway comprises condensation of acetyl-CoA and succinyl-CoA to form the C6 backbone and subsequent reduction, dehydration, hydrogenation, and release of adipic acid from its thioester. The pathway was first tested in vitro with reconstituted pathway enzymes and then functionally introduced into Escherichia coli for the biosynthesis and excretion of adipic acid into the culture medium. The production titer was increased by approximately 20-fold through the combination of recruiting enzymes that were more suitable to catalyze the synthetic reactions and increasing availability of the condensation substrates. This work demonstrates direct biosynthesis of adipic acid via non-natural synthetic pathway, which may enable its renewable production. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2014;111: 2580–2586. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.