Article

Melatonin production in Escherichia coli by dual expression of serotonin N-acetyltransferase and caffeic acid O-methyltransferase.

Byeon, Y; Back, K

Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2016 15

PMID: 27005412

Melatonin production in Escherichia coli by dual expression of serotonin N-acetyltransferase and caffeic acid O-methyltransferase.

Melatonin is a well-known bioactive molecule produced in animals and plants and a well-studied natural compound. Two enzymatic steps are required for the biosynthesis of melatonin from serotonin. First, serotonin N-acetyltransferase (SNAT) catalyzes serotonin to N-acetylserotonin (NAS) followed by the action of N-acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase (ASMT), resulting in the synthesis of O-methylated NAS, also known as melatonin. Attempts to document melatonin production in Escherichia coli have been unsuccessful to date due to either low enzyme activity or inactive ASMT expression. Here, we employed caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (1185' href='#term-1185'>COMT) instead of ASMT, as COMT is a multifunctional enzyme that has ASMT activity as well. Among several combinations of dual expression cassettes, recombinant E. coli that expressed sheep SNAT with rice COMT produced a high quantity of melatonin, which was measured in a culture medium (1.46 mg/L in response to 1 mM serotonin). This level was several orders of magnitude higher than that produced in transgenic rice and tomato overexpressing sheep SNAT and ASMT, respectively. This heterologous expression system can be widely employed to screen various putative SNAT or ASMT genes from animals and plants as well as to overproduce melatonin in various useful microorganisms.