Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for efficient biosynthesis of butyl acetate

Jason T. Ku, Arvin Y. Chen, Ethan I. Lan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Butyl acetate is a versatile compound that is widely used in the chemical and food industry. The conventional butyl acetate synthesis via Fischer esterification of butanol and acetic acid using catalytic strong acids under high temperature is not environmentally benign. Alternative lipase-catalyzed ester formation requires a significant amount of organic solvent which also presents another environmental challenge. Therefore, a microbial cell factory capable of producing butyl acetate through fermentation of renewable resources would provide a greener approach to butyl acetate production. Result: Here, we developed a metabolically engineered strain of Escherichia coli that efficiently converts glucose to butyl acetate. A modified Clostridium CoA-dependent butanol production pathway was used to synthesize butanol which was then condensed with acetyl-CoA through an alcohol acetyltransferase. Optimization of alcohol acetyltransferase expression and redox balance with auto-inducible fermentative controlled gene expression led to an effective titer of 22.8 ± 1.8 g/L butyl acetate produced in a bench-top bioreactor. Conclusion: Building on the well-developed Clostridium CoA-dependent butanol biosynthetic pathway, expression of an alcohol acetyltransferase converts the butanol produced into butyl acetate. The results from this study provided a strain of E. coli capable of directly producing butyl acetate from renewable resources at ambient conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • ATF1
  • Alcohol acetyltransferase
  • Butanol
  • Butyl acetate
  • Ester
  • Metabolic engineering


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