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Connecting moss lipid droplets to patchoulol biosynthesis

by Anantha Peramuna, Hansol Bae, Carmen Quiñonero López, Arvid Fromberg, Bent Petersen, Henrik Toft Simonsen

Plant-derived terpenoids are extensively used in perfume, food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, and several attempts are being made to produce terpenes in heterologous hosts. Native hosts have evolved to accumulate large quantities of terpenes in specialized cells. However, heterologous cells lack the capacity needed to produce and store high amounts of non-native terpenes, leading to reduced growth and loss of volatile terpenes by evaporation. Here, we describe how to direct the sesquiterpene patchoulol production into cytoplasmic lipid droplets (LDs) in Physcomitrium patens (syn. Physcomitrella patens), by attaching patchoulol synthase (PTS) to proteins linked to plant LD biogenesis. Three different LD-proteins: Oleosin (PpOLE1), Lipid Droplet Associated Protein (AtLDAP1) and Seipin (PpSeipin325) were tested as anchors. Ectopic expression of PTS increased the number and size of LDs, implying an unknown mechanism between heterologous terpene production and LD biogenesis. The expression of PTS physically linked to Seipin increased the LD size and the retention of patchoulol in the cell. Overall, the expression of PTS was lower in the anchored mutants than in the control, but when normalized to the expression the production of patchoulol was higher in the seipin-linked mutants.

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