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Novel Biosynthetic Pathway for Production of Fatty Acid Derived Molecules

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryJay Keasling and Eric Steen of Berkeley Lab have invented what may be the most efficient metabolic pathway for producing fatty acids, and their derived molecules of desired chain length, by utilizing fatty acid elongases.DescriptionThis invention uses recently discovered elongases to directly synthesize fatty acyl-CoAs for the biosynthesis of compounds such as fatty acids, aldehydes, alcohols, and alkanes with desired acyl chain length ranging from C10 to C18. These compounds are synthesized from the starter molecule, butyryl-CoA. By providing a direct pathway to fatty acyl-CoAs, the fatty acid derived molecules are produced more efficiently than in alternative approaches. Further, the resulting molecules can be directly converted to biofuels or beneficial oils and therapeutics since all fatty acid modifying enzymes work on fatty acyl-CoA substrates.

In the Berkeley Lab technology, fatty acids and fatty acid derived compounds are secreted from a host cell, such as E. coli. The host cell can be modified to increase fatty acid production or export the desired fatty acid (or fatty acid derived compound). The host cell can also decrease fatty acid storage or metabolism so that it secretes fatty acids and fatty acid derived compounds that require only inexpensive purification to yield the desired final products.
  • Directly uses Coenzyme A (CoA) mediated chemistry
  • Potentially more efficient than current extraction processes in biotech and chemical industries
  • Easy control of fatty acid chain length
Applications and IndustriesProduction of fatty acids for conversion to
  • Biodiesels, fatty esters, fatty alcohols, and alkenes
  • Eicosanoids and related molecules for therapeutics
  • Expensive oils, e.g., a cocoa butter equivalent
  • Nutraceuticals
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20100170148
Host Cells and Methods for Producing Fatty Acid Derived Compounds
The present invention provides for a method of producing one or more fatty acid derived compounds in a genetically modified host cell which does not naturally produce the one or more derived fatty acid derived compounds. The invention provides for the biosynthesis of fatty acid derived compounds such as C18 aldehydes, C18 alcohols, C18 alkanes, and C17 alkanes from C18-CoA which in turn is synthesized from butyryl-CoA. The host cell can be further modified to increase fatty acid production or export of the desired fatty acid derived compound, and/or decrease fatty acid storage or metabolism.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 12/21/2009
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
IB-2386, IB-2387Proposed - early researchAvailable01/14/201002/02/2010

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To: Shanshan Li<>