Yeasts have the potential to be used as cell factories to produce lipids (biodiesel, high-value lipids, etc.). However, bio-production is costly compared to chemical synthesis, as it is highly energy-consuming for the cell and product extraction is laborious. To increase competitiveness, we engineer yeast to accumulate high lipid levels by using light both as an inductor for metabolic switch and as an electron source.
Further, yeast is designed to self-lyse after production. First, we introduce extra copies of lipid synthesizing enzymes controlled by light-inducible promoters. Next, we coat the cells with light-absorbing nanoparticles to enable the cells to use light as an electron source for NADPH formation – a critical cofactor for lipid synthesis.
This leads to increased carbon flux to lipid production. To ease the product extraction, the cells are designed to autolyse by induction of cell wall degrading glucanases that are targeted to cell wall via anchor proteins.