Team:Tokyo Tech/Project/Apple Reporter2


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iGEM Tokyo Tech 2010 "E.coli with Humanity"

2-2 Fragrance



We designed apple fragrance expression device with MpAAT1[1]. MpAAT1 is able to produce ester compounds with apple fragrance using alcohols and Acetyl-CoA. Fig. 2-2-1 shows the outline of the device. We performed gas chromatography to confirm the product of esters. The results revealed that MpAAT1 could produce 2-methylbutyl acetate and butyl acetate y busing 2-methyl butanol and butanol respectively (Fig. 2-2-2). 2-methylbutyl acetate and butyl acetate are known as the Apple fragrance.

Fig. 2-2-1. Apple fragrance expression device.
Abbreviations : 2-methyl butanol (2-MeBuOH), butanol (BuOH), 2-methylbutyl acetate (2-MeBuOAc), butyl acetate (BuOAc).

Fig. 2-2-2. Gas chromatography analysis of apple fragrance expression device.
(1) MpAAT1 + BuOH, (2) No MpAAT1 + BuOAc, (3) No MpAAT1 + BuOH, (4) MpAAT1 + 2-MeBuOH, (5) No MpAAT1 + 2-MeBuOAc, (6) No MpAAT1 + 2-MeBuOH, (7) MpAAT1 - 2-MeBuOH.
This work is done by Toshitaka Matsubara.


MpAAT1 gene was isolated from Malus pumila (popular apple)[2]. This gene is expressed in leaves, flowers and fruit of apple. The recombinant enzyme (MpAAT1) to produce esters involved in apple fragrance, utilize various alcohol as substrates such as straight chain (C3–C10), branched chain, aromatic and terpene alcohols. In addition, various kinds of CoA derivatives, such as acetyl-CoA, are used for producing esters by MpAAT1. Both alcohol and CoA derivative are required for successful ester synthesis. The major components for producing apple fragrance are butyl acetate and 2-methylbutyl acetate[3]. We engineered apple fragrance expression device to produce these molecules by MpAAT1. This device is used to Artificial Cooperation System in our projects, when dying cells are recued by its counterpart, it gives an apple fragrance for a token of their gratitude.


We transformed MpAAT1(BBa_K395602) on pSB6A1 along with pTrx6 into E.coli BL21 DE3, and cultured after addition of alcohols(2-MeBuOH or BuOH) as substrates. After 12 hours of incubation, we extracted organic solution layer from the culture and analyzed by gas chromatography (Fig. 2-2-2). Peaks of the esters producing apple fragrance (2-MeBuOAc or BuOAc) were detected.

Fig. 2-2-2. Gas chromatography analysis of apple fragrance expression device.
(1) MpAAT1 + BuOH, (2) No MpAAT1 + BuOAc, (3) No MpAAT1 + BuOH, (4) MpAAT1 + 2-MeBuOH, (5) No MpAAT1 + 2-MeBuOAc, (6) No MpAAT1 + 2-MeBuOH, (7) MpAAT1 - 2-MeBuOH.
This work is done by Toshitaka Matsubara.

By comparing (1) with (2), BuOAc was confirmed when E. coli has MpAAT1. Moreover, by Comparing (1) with (3), BuOH (substrate) doesn’t contain BuOAc as impurity. By the same token, 2-MeBuOAc was confirmed when E. coli has MpAAT1 by comparing (4) with (5). Moreover, by Comparing (4) with (6), 2-MeBuOH (substrate) doesn’t contain 2-MeBuOAc as impurity. (7) shows E. coli which has MpAAT1 is able to convert alcohols (substrates) into fragrance molecules grown in no substrate culture. From these result, E. coli which has MpAAT1 successfully was able to produce 2-methylbutyl acetate and butyl acetate using 2-methyl butanol and butanol respectively.


From the result of the experiment above, we can conclude that apple fragrance expression device was able to produce esters using alcohols added as substrates. Moreover, we synthesized MpAAT1 and esters using E.coli BL21 DE3 as a chassis, which was reported to be implausible in former report(s) [1]. In 2008, C.R. Shen and J.C. Liao[4] succeeded in synthesizing butanol from E.coli. If we take advantage of this engineered E.coli, we could produce apple fragrance ester without the addition of substrate.

Materials and Methods

Strains of E. coli
E. coli BL21 DE3

Varieties of plasmid
MpAAT1 on pSB6A1
Trx on pACYC184

Butanol (final 0.4%)
2-methyl butanol (final 0.2%)

100 mM IPTG
20% arabinose

Undecane solution: undecane 10 μL + ether 990 μL

MpAAT1 expression construct.
We ordered the synthesis of MpAAT1(BBa_K395602) from Mr. GENE.
This artificial gene was annealed with vector pSB6A1 as MpAAT1 expression plasmid.
Moreover, we introduced pTrx6 into this expression plasmid to stabilize the MpAAT1 gene product.

MpAAT1 over expression conditions
Artificial gene has T7 promoter on the upstream of MpAAT1.
This promoter works by taking over T7 RNA polymerase from E. coli.
Therefore we utilized E. coli BL21 DE3 which has T7 RNA polymerase.
Furthermore, arabinose was added in culture to induce Trx which has arabinose-induced promoter.

E. coli BL21 DE3
E. coli BL21 DE3 express T7 RNA polymerase by IPTG induction.
Therefore we added 3 μL of 100 mM IPTG and 15 μL of 20% arabinose in LB culture in order to express MpAAT1 and Trx in E. coli BL21 DE3.

Expression of MpAAT1 recombinant protein in E. coli
O/N E. coli
→100-fold dilution
→2 hour fresh culture
→make up the OD590 = 0.1 with LB culture
→add substrate,antibiotics and inducer
→harvest (7,000×g, 3 min)
→collect supernatant solution
→separating liquid layer and oil layer with ether (shake supernatant solution 0.5 mL, ether 0.5 mL and undecane soln. 2 μL)
→derive oil layer from supernatant solution with liquid-liquid extraction
→GC analysis.

GC analysis
Column: J&W SCIENTIFIC, DB-17, Film thickness 0.25 μm, Column Dimensions 15 m × 0.320 mm, Temperature Limits 40°C to 280°C (300°C Program)
Conditions: column temperature 35°C, injector temperature 180°C, detector temperature 180°C
Sample was injected 5 μL.


[1] Edwige J. F. Souleyre, FEBS Journal, 272, 3132–3144 (2005)
[2] Young H, J Sci Food Agric, 71, 329-336 (1996)
[3] GenBank accession number AY707098
[4] C.R. Shen, Metabolic Engineering, 10, 312–320 (2008)