Construction of carotenoid biosynthetic pathways using squalene synthase

Maiko Furubayashi, Ling Li, Akinori Katabami, Kyoichi Saito, Daisuke Umeno*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The first committed steps of steroid/hopanoid pathways involve squalene synthase (SQS). Here, we report the Escherichia coli production of diaponeurosporene and diapolycopene, yellow C30 carotenoid pigments, by expressing human SQS and Staphylococcus aureus dehydrosqualene (C 30 carotenoid) desaturase (CrtN). We suggest that the carotenoid pigments are synthesized mainly via the desaturation of squalene rather than the direct synthesis of dehydrosqualene through the non-reductive condensation of prenyl diphosphate precursors, indicating the possible existence of a "squalene route" and a "lycopersene route" for C 30 and C40 carotenoids, respectively. Additionally, this finding yields a new method of colorimetric screening for the cellular activity of squalene synthases, which are major targets for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-442
Number of pages7
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 31
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotenoid
  • Chimeric pathway
  • Desaturase
  • Lycopersene
  • Squalene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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