Short-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates: Synthesis in metabolically engineered Escherichia coli and medical applications

Si Jae Park, Jong Il Choi, Sang Yup Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are homo or hetero polyesters of (R)-hydroxyalkanoates accumulated in various microorganisms under growth-limiting condition in the presence of excess carbon source. They have been suggested as biodegradable substitutes for chemically synthesized polymers. Recombinant Escherichia coli is one of the promising host strains for the economical production of PHAs, and has been extensively investigated for the process development. The heterologous PHA biosynthetic pathways have been established through the metabolic engineering and inherent metabolic pathways of E. coli have been redirected to supply PHA precursors. Fermentation strategies for cultivating these recombinant E. coli strains have also been developed for the efficient production of PHAs. Nowadays, short-chain-length (SCL) PHAs are being re-invited due to its improved mechanical properties and possible applications in the biomedical area. In this article, recent advances in the development of metabolically engineered E. coli strains for the enhanced production of SCL-PHAs are reviewed. Also, medical applications of SCL-PHAs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-215
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • E. coli
  • Medical application
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Short-chain-length PHA


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