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Title:
RECOMBINANT MICROORGANISMS COMPRISING NADPH DEPENDENT ENZYMES AND METHODS OF PRODUCTION THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/120852
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
The invention provides a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism with increased overall utilization of NADPH relative to a parent microorganism. Further, the invention provides a method of producing a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism which exhibits increased NADPH utilization relative to a parental microorganism. In particular, the invention relates to increasing the overall utilization of NADPH in a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism in order to increase the production of at least one fermentation product by the microorganism.

Inventors:
MUELLER, Alexander (24 Balfour Road, Parnell, 1052 Auckland, Auckland, NZ)
KOEPKE, Michael (24 Balfour Road, Parnell, 1052 Auckland, Auckland, NZ)
Application Number:
US2014/013712
Publication Date:
August 07, 2014
Filing Date:
January 30, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LANZATECH NEW ZEALAND LIMITED (24 Balfour Road, Parnell, 1052 Auckland, Auckland, NZ)
MUELLER, Alexander (24 Balfour Road, Parnell, 1052 Auckland, Auckland, NZ)
Domestic Patent References:
WO2009064200A22009-05-22
WO2008028055A22008-03-06
WO2012053905A12012-04-26
WO2002008438A22002-01-31
Foreign References:
US5593886A1997-01-14
US6368819B12002-04-09
US20110229947A12011-09-22
US5173429A1992-12-22
Other References:
HENSIRISAK: "Scale-up of microbubble dispersion generator for aerobic fermentation", APPLIED BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY, vol. 101, no. 3, October 2002 (2002-10-01)
SAMBROOK ET AL.: "Molecular Cloning: A laboratory manual", 1989, COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY PRESS
SAMBROOK J; FRITSCH EF; MANIATIS T: "Molecular Cloning: A laboratory Manual", 1989, COLD SPRING HARBOUR LABROTARY PRESS
KOPKE ET AL., POC. NAT. ACAD. SCI. U.S.A., vol. 107, 2010, pages 13087 - 92
STRAETZ ET AL., APPL. ENVIRON. MICROBIOL., vol. 60, 1994, pages 1033 - 37
MERMELSTEIN ET AL., BIOTECHNOLOGY, vol. 10, 1992, pages 190 - 195
JENNERT ET AL., MICROBIOLOGY, vol. 146, 2000, pages 3071 - 3080
TYURIN ET AL., APPL. ENVIRON. MICROBIOL., vol. 70, 2004, pages 883 - 890
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SCHONHEIT ET AL.: "Rapid procedure for purification of ferredoxin from lostridia using polyethyleneimine", FEBS LETT., vol. 89, 1978, pages 219 - 222
YANG ET AL.: "Clostridium thermocellum ATCC27405 transcriptomic, metabolomic and proteomic profiles after ethanol stress", BMC GENOMICS, vol. 13, 2012, pages 336, XP021106689, DOI: doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-336
MARCELLIN E: "Quantitative analysis of intracellular sugar phosphates and sugar nucleotides in encapsulated streptococci using HPAEC-PAD", BIOTECHNOL J, vol. 4, 2009, pages 58 - 63
See also references of EP 2951286A4
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Claims:
Claims

1. A recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism adapted to express at least one exogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes or adapted to over-express at least one endogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes, the enzymes selected such that when the exogenous enzyme is expressed or the endogenous enzyme is overexpressed, the overall utilization of NADPH by the microorganism is increased relative to a parental microorganism.

2. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1, wherein the at least one NADPH- dependent enzyme is selected from the group consisting of hydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase and methylene-THF-dehydrogenase.

3. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1, wherein the at least one NADPH- dependent enzyme is selected from the group consisting of a bifurcating NADP Fe- only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and a formate- hydrogen lyase complex.

4. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1, wherein the at least one NADPH- dependent enzyme exists in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms and the recombinant microorganism is adapted to express or overexpress the NADPH- dependent isoform.

5. The recombinant microorganism of claim 4, wherein the at least one NADH- dependent isoform is attenuated or knocked out compared to a parental microorganism.

6. The recombinant microorganism of claim 4, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is a hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA (HMG- CoA) reductase.

7. The recombinant microorganism of claim 4, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is selected from the group consisting of hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase, acetoacetyl-CoA reductase and 3- hydroxybutyryl-CoA hydratase, and wherein any one of the enzymes comprises an NADPH-dependent isoform selected from the group consisting of phaB and phaJ, and a corresponding NADH-dependent isoform hbd.

8. The recombinant microorganism of claim 4, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is selected from the group consisting of Crotonyl-CoA reductase, trans-2-enoyl-CoA reductase and butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase, and wherein any one of the enzymes comprises an NADPH- dependent isoform selected from the group consisting of ccr and cc/¾ and a corresponding NADH-dependent isoform ter.

9. The recombinant microorganism of claim 4, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms further exhibit multiple co-factor dependence, wherein the enzyme exhibiting multiple co-factor dependence is selected from a NADH/ferrodoxin bifurcating enzyme or a NADH/NADPH co-dependent enzyme.

10. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1, wherein the at least one enzyme exist in a NADH/NADPH bifurcating isoform and an NADH/Ferrodoxin bifurcating isoform and the microorganism is adapted to express or overexpress the NADH/NADPH bifurcating isoform.

11. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1 , wherein the at least one endogenous NADPH-dependent enzyme is modified to increase its NADPH co-factor specificity relative to its NADH co-factor specificity.

12. The recombinant microorganism of claim 11, wherein the at least one enzyme in which NADPH co-factor specificity is increased is an oxioreductase enzyme.

13. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1, wherein the increase in the overall utilization of NADPH results in an increase in the production of at least one fermentation product by the microorganism.

14. The recombinant microorganism of claim 1, wherein the parental microorganism is selected from the group consisting of Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium Ijungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdahlei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium, formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum and mixtures thereof.

15. A method of producing a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism which exhibits increased NADPH utilization relative to a parental microorganism, the method comprising:

a. selecting at least one exogenous or endogenous NADPH-dependent enzyme; b. transforming a parental microorganism to produce a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to express the at least one NADPH-dependent exogenous enzyme or overexpress the at least one NADPH-dependent endogenous enzyme.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the at least one NADPH-dependent enzyme is selected from the group consisting of hydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase and methylene-THF-dehydrogenase.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the at least one NADPH-dependent enzyme exists in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms and the recombinant microorganism is adapted to express or overexpress the NADPH-dependent isoform.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one NADH-dependent isoform is attenuated or knocked out compared to a parental microorganism.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is a hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is selected from the group consisting of hydroxybutyryl- CoA dehydrogenase, acetoacetyl-CoA reductase and 3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA hydratase, and wherein any one of the enzymes comprises an NADPH-dependent isoform selected from the group consisting of phaB and phaJ, and a corresponding NADH-dependent isoform hbd.

21. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is selected from the group comprising Crotonyl-CoA reductase, trans-2-enoyl-CoA reductase and butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase, and wherein any one of the enzymes comprises an NADPH-dependent isoform selected from the group consisting of ccr and cc/¾ and a corresponding NADH-dependent isoform ter.

22. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one enzyme existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms further exhibit multiple co-factor dependence, wherein the enzyme exhibiting multiple co-factor dependence is selected from a NADH/ferrodoxin bifurcating enzyme or a NADH/NADPH co-dependent enzyme.

23. The method of claim 15, wherein the at least one enzyme exists in a NADH/NADPH bifurcating isoform and an NADH/Ferrodoxin bifurcating isoform and the microorganism is adapted to express or overexpress the NADH/NADPH bifurcating isoform.

24. The method of claim 15, further comprising increasing the NADPH co-factor specificity of the at least one NADPH-dependent enzyme relative to the NADH co- factor specificity of the enzyme.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the at least one enzyme in which NADPH co-factor specificity is increased is an oxioreductase enzyme.

26. The method of claim 15, wherein the recombinant microorganism has increased production of at least one fermentation product relative to a parental microorganism.

27. The method of claim 15, wherein the parental microorganism is selected from the group consisting of Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdahlei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium, formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum and mixtures thereof.

28. A method of producing at least one fermentation product, the method comprising anaerobically fermenting a substrate comprising CO in the presence of a carboxydotrophic microorganism, wherein the carboxydotrophic microorganism is the recombinant microorganism of claim 1 or the recombinant microorganism produced by claim 15.

29. The method of claim 28, wherein the at least one fermentation product is selected from the group consisting of ethanol, butanol, isopropanol, isobutanol, C5+ alcohols, butanediol, succinate, isoprenoids, fatty acids and biopolymers.

30. A method of producing a recombinant microorganism which can utilize multiple cofactors in a fermentation reaction, the method comprising:

a. selecting at least one enzyme selected from the group consisting of a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and a formate -hydrogen lyase complex;

b. transforming a parental microorganism to produce a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to express or overexpress at least one of the selected enzymes;

31. The method of claim 30, wherein the multiple co-factors comprises ferrodoxin and NADPH.

32. The method of claim 30, wherein the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase comprises an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO: 10, SEQ ID NO:26 and YP 003778879, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

33. The method of claim 30, wherein the bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase comprises an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of AEI90721, YP 003778871, AEI90722, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

34. The method of claim 30, wherein the formate hydrogen lyase complex comprises an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:65-67, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

35. The method of claim 30, wherein the parental microorganism is selected from the group consisting of Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdahlei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium, formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum and mixtures thereof.

36. A method of producing a recombinant microorganism which can convert NADH to NADPH, the method comprising transforming a parental microorganism to produce a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to express or overexpress at least one single NADH-dependent reduced ferredoxin:NADP+ oxidoreductase (Nfn) enzyme.

37. The method of claim 36, wherein the Nfn enzyme comprises the amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO:2, 4, YP 003781852.1 and CLJU_c37240, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

38. The method of claim 36, wherein the parental microorganism is selected from the group consisting of Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdahlei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium, formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum and mixtures thereof.

39. The use of a polypeptide to convert NADH to NADPH, wherein the polypeptide comprises a single NADH-dependent reduced ferredoxin:NADP+ oxidoreductase (Nfn) enzyme comprising an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO:2, SEQ ID NO:4, YP 003781852.1, or CLIU_c37240, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

40. A method of producing formate from C02 and H2, the method comprising:

a. transforming a carboxydotrophic Clostridia parental microorganism to produce a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to express or overexpress at least one formate hydrogen lyase;

b. anaerobically fermenting a substrate comprising C02 and H2 in the presence of the recombinant microorganism to produce formate.

41. The method of claim 40, wherein the formate hydrogen lyase comprises an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of AEI90721, HQ876015, YP 003778871, CLJU_c08930, AEI90722, HQ876016, SEQ ID:9-10, CLJU_c07070, YP 003778879 and SEQ ID NO. 25-26, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

42. The method of claim 40, wherein the carboxydotrophic Clostridia parental microorganism is selected from the group consisting of Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdahlei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium, formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum and mixtures thereof.

43. The method of claim 40, wherein the at least one formate hydrogen lyase is further capable of converting formate to form C02 and H2.

44. A method of producing formate from C02 and H2, the method comprising: a. purifying at least one formate hydrogen lyase from a carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism;

b. converting a substrate comprising C02 and H2 in the presence of the at least one purified formate hydrogen lyase to produce formate.

45. The method of claim 44, wherein the formate hydrogen lyase comprises an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of AEI90721, HQ876015, YP 003778871, CLJU_c08930, AEI90722, HQ876016, SEQ ID:9-10, CLJU_c07070, YP 003778879 and SEQ ID NO. 25-26, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 76% sequence identity.

46. The method of claim 44, wherein the at least one formate hydrogen lyase is further capable of converting formate to form C02 and H2.

Description:
RECOMBINANT MICROORGANISMS COMPRISING NADPH DEPENDENT ENZYMES AND METHODS OF PRODUCTION THEREOF

Field of Invention

[0001] The invention relates to methods of selecting enzymes to optimise production of desirable compounds by way of fermentation. More particularly, but not exclusively, the invention relates to co-factor balancing in fermentation pathways and metabolic engineering.

Background

[0002] Reducing equivalents such as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) are important coenzymes for enzymatic redox reactions such as oxidoreducatase reactions and are found in all living cells. It is generally accepted that the NADPH pool is considerably smaller than the pool of NADH (G. N. Bennett & San, 2009). In E. coli grown on glucose sugar the pool of NADH is over 20 times larger than the NADPH pool (B. D. Bennett et al, 2009). This low NADPH availability limits many biosynthetic reactions and bioconversions especially in fermentation processes (R Poulsen et al., 2005). The preference of enzymes for NADPH can limit the production of a desired product (G. N. Bennett & San, 2009). This is a problem when engineering new reactions and pathways into a microorganism and is one of the major hurdles for the generation of efficient production platforms of compounds including biofuels, chemicals, amino acids or vitamins (Chemler, Fowler, McHugh, & Koffas, 2010).

[0003] Nevertheless, metabolic engineering has been successfully demonstrated for production of a wide range of fuels and chemicals (Peralta-Yahya & Keasling, 2010) by limiting, avoiding or bypassing NADPH dependent reactions where possible. Alternatively, energy-consuming transhydrogenases have been used that interconvert between NADH and NADPH pools. Another strategy to achieve successful metabolic engineering is elimination of competing NADPH dependent reactions. Despite these advances, such novel strategies are often pursued at the expense of production yields and/or growth rates (Auriol, Bestel-Corre, Claude, Soucaille, & Meynial-Salles, 2011). Further, they only become possible by extensive engineering work with multiple modifications (S. M. Ma et al., 2011). Thus these efforts have been limited only to genetically tractable organisms such as Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Peralta-Yahya & Keasling, 2010). These organisms are limited as they feed only on sugar. Accordingly, their commercial use and viability suffers from the significant drawbacks around land-use, food-security, volatility of supply and environmental issues.

[0004] Carboxydotrophic Clostridia offer an alternative to E. coli and S. cerevisiae and are able to grow on waste gases and syngas. There are a few examples of recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia which have a limited number of modifications (Schiel- Bengelsdorf & Diirre, 2012). All known examples use NADH-dependent reactions.

[0005] It is an object of the invention to overcome or ameliorate one or more of the disadvantages of the prior art, or at least to provide the public with a useful choice.

Summary of the Invention

[0006] In a first aspect, the invention provides a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism adapted to express one or more exogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes, and/or adapted to over-express one or more endogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes, the enzymes selected such that when the exogenous enzyme is expressed, and/or the endogenous enzyme is overexpressed, the overall utilisation of NADPH by the microorganism is increased relative to a parental microorganism.

[0007] In a second aspect, the invention provides a method of producing a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism which exhibits increased NADPH utilisation relative to a parental microorganism, the method comprising: a. selecting one or more exogenous and/or endogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes; b. transforming a parental microorganism to yield a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to express the one or more NADPH-dependent exogenous enzymes, and/or over-express the one or more NADPH-dependent endogenous enzymes. The expression or over-expression of any one or more of the NADPH-dependent enzymes in the microorganism results in an overall increase in the utilisation of NADPH relative to a parental microorganism.

[0008] The invention also provides a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia made by a method of the second aspect. [0009] In a particular embodiment of the first or second aspect, the one or more NADPH- dependent enzymes comprises hydrogenase (for example Seq.ID 6,8, 10,12, 14,16, 18,20,22,24,26,28,30,32, YP_003781016, YP_003781017, YP_003778879, YP 003779640, YP 003779893, YP 003780193 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof), formate dehydrogenase (for example AEI90721 , AEI90723, AEI90725, YP 003779063, YP 003778871 , YP 003780168, AEI90722, AEI90724, AEI90726 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof) or methylene-THF-dehydrogenase (for example AEI90753, YP 003781891 , AEI90771 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof).

[00010] In a particular embodiment of the first or second aspect, the one or more

NADPH-dependent enzyme exists in NADH- and NADPH-dependent isoforms and the recombinant microorganism is adapted to express and/or overexpress the NADPH-dependent isoform.

[00011] In a particular embodiment, the microorganism is adapted to express and/or over-express an NADPH-dependent isoform while the expression of a corresponding NADH- dependent isoform is substantially unchanged, decreases, or exhibits a comparatively smaller increase when compared to the change in expression of the NADPH-dependent isoform. In one particular embodiment, the microorganism is adapted so expression of the one or more NADH-dependent isoforms is attenuated or knocked out compared to a parental microorganism. In one embodiment, the expression is attenuated or knocked out by modifying a nucleic acid encoding the one or more NADH-dependent enzyme or replacing one or more nucleic acid encoding an NADH-dependent isoform with one or more nucleic acid encoding an NADPH-dependent isoform.

[00012] In a particular embodiment of the first or second aspect, the increase in overall utilisation of NADPH comprises an increase in the NADPH flux through the pathway in which the one or more NADPH-dependent enzymes is active. In a particular embodiment, the flux is increased by at least 5%, at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 50%>, at least 100%. Flux through the pathway can be measured by the level of metabolites and products (metabolomics) (Patti, Yanes, & Siuzdak, 2012) and/or labelling experiments as C 13 (fluxomics) (Niittylae, Chaudhuri, Sauer, & Frommer, 2009; Tang et al, n.d.). [00013] In one particular embodiment of the first or second aspect, the increase in overall utilisation of NADPH results, in use, in an increase in the efficiency of production of one or more products by the microorganism.

[00014] In one particular embodiment, the one or more enzymes existing in NADPH- and NADH -dependent isoforms is a hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, and comprises an NADPH-dependent isoform (EC 1.1.1.34; GO:0004420; e.g. Saccharomyces cerevisiae DAA09822.1; BK006946.2: 115734..118898 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof) and an NADH-dependent isoform (EC 1.1.1.88; GO:0042282; e.g. Pseudomonas mevalonii: P13702.1 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof).

[00015] In one particular embodiment, the one or more enzymes existing in NADPH- and NADH-dependent isoforms is a hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase/ acetoacetyl-CoA reductase / 3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA hydratase, and comprises an NADPH-dependent isoform phaB (EC: 1.1.1.36; GO:0018454; e.g. from Ralstonia eutropha: YP 725942.1, GeneID:4249784 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof), NADPH dependent phaJ (EC 4.2.1.119; e.g. from Aeromonas punctata: BAA21816.1) and a corresponding NADH-dependent isoform hbd (EC 1.1.1.157; GO:0008691; e.g. from C. acetobutylicum: NP 349314.1, GeneID: l 118891 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof).

[00016] In one particular embodiment, the one or more enzymes existing in NADPH- and NADH -dependent isoforms is a Crotonyl-CoA reductase/ trans-2-enoyl-CoA reductase/butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase, and comprises an NADPH-dependent isoform ccr (EC 1.3.1.86; e.g. from Streptomyces collinus or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof) or cc/¾ (EC 1.3.1.85; e.g. from Rhodobacter sphaeroides: YP_354044.1, Gene ID: 3720751) and a corresponding NADH-dependent isoform ter (EC 1.3.1.44; GO:0050343; e.g. from Treponema denticola or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof).

[00017] In a further embodiment, the enzyme exists in NADH and NADPH dependent isoforms and also exhibits multiple co-factor dependence. In one embodiment of the second aspect, the enzyme exhibiting multiple co-factor dependence may comprise a NADH/ferredoxin bifurcating enzyme or a NADH/NADPH co-dependent enzyme. In a particular embodiment, the enzyme exists in an NADH/NADPH bifurcating isoform and an NADH/Ferredoxin bifurcating isoform and the microorganism is adapted to express and/or overexpress the NADH / NADPH dependent isoform. In a particular embodiment, the NADH/NADPH dependent isoform is ter (EC 1.3.1.44; GO:0050343; e.g. from Euglena gracilis: AY741582.1 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof). In a a further embodiment, the NADH/Fd dependent isoform is NADH/ferredoxin bifurcating bcd-etfAB complex (EC 1.3.8.1; GO:0004085; e.g. from C. acetobutylicum: NP 349317.1; GeneID: l 118894 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof).

[00018] In a particular embodiment of the first or second aspects, the recombinant microorganism exhibits attenuated expression of one or more NADH-dependent enzymes. In this embodiment, an NADH-dependent isoform of an enzyme in a parental microorganism may have been replaced by an NADPH-dependent isoform of the enzyme in the recombinant microorganism.

[00019] In a particular embodiment of the first or second aspect, the microorganism exhibits increased efficiency during a fermentation reaction when compared to a parental microorganism.

[00020] In one particular embodiment of the first or second aspect, the parental microorganism is selected from the group of carboxydotrophic Clostridia comprising Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdalei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum.

[00021] In one embodiment of the first or second aspect, the parental microorganism is

Clostridium autoethanogenum or Clostridium ljungdahlii. In one particular embodiment, the microorganism is Clostridium autoethanogenum DSM23693 a derivate of strain DSM10061. In another particular embodiment, the microorganism is Clostridium ljungdahlii DSM13528 (or ATCC55383).

[00022] In a further embodiment of the first aspect, the one or more NADPH- dependent enzymes is modified to increase its NADPH co-factor specificity relative to its NADH co-factor specificity.

[00023] In a further embodiment of the second aspect, the method further comprises a step of increasing the NADPH co-factor specificity of the one or more NADPH-dependent enzymes relative to the NADH co-factor specificity of the enzyme(s). In one embodiment, this comprises modifying one or more nucleic acid encoding one or more NADPH-dependent enzymes.

[00024] In a particular embodiment, the one or more enzyme in which NADPH co- factor specificity is increased is an oxidoreductase enzyme, preferably selected from the group consisting of Crotonyl-CoA reductase/ trans-2-enoyl-CoA reductase/butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase.

[00025] In a particular embodiment, the one or more exogenous or endogenous enzymes comprises a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate-hydrogen lyase complex as described herein, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof.

[00026] In a further embodiment, the invention provides a recombinant microorganism according to the first aspect having one or more modifications as described in any of the aspects described herein.

[00027] In a further embodiment, the invention provides a method of producing a recombinant microorganism according to the second aspect having one or more modifications as described in any of the aspects described herein.

[00028] In a third aspect, the invention provides a method of producing one or more fermentation products, the method comprising anaerobically fermenting a substrate comprising CO in the presence of a carboxydotrophic microorganism wherein the carboxydotrophic microorganism is a recombinant microorganism as described in the first aspect or as produced by the second aspect.

[00029] In a particular embodiment, the one or more fermentation products comprises ethanol, butanol, isopropanol, isobutanol, higher alcohols, butanediol, succinate, isoprenoids, fatty acids and/or biopolymers.

[00030] In a particular embodiment, the substrate comprising CO is a gaseous substrate comprising CO. In one embodiment, the substrate comprises an industrial waste gas. In certain embodiments, the gas is steel mill waste gas or syngas. [00031] In one embodiment, the substrate will typically contain a major proportion of

CO, such as at least about 20% to about 100% CO by volume, from 20% to 70% CO by volume, from 30%> to 60%> CO by volume, and from 40%> to 55% CO by volume. In particular embodiments, the substrate comprises about 25%, or about 30%, or about 35%, or about 40%, or about 45%, or about 50% CO, or about 55% CO, or about 60% CO by volume.

[00032] In a fourth aspect, the invention provides the use of a bifurcating NADP Fe- only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate-hydrogen lyase complex or a functionally equivalent variant thereof for the purpose of utilising multiple co-factors in a reaction. Preferably, the multiple co-factors comprise ferredoxin and NADPH.

[00033] In a particular embodiment, the bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase is selected from the group consisting of AEI90721, YP 003778871, AEI90722, and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[00034] In a particular embodiment, the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase is selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO: 10, SEQ ID NO:26 and YP 003778879, and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[00035] In a particular embodiment, the bifurcating formate-hydrogen lyase complex is encoded by any one of SEQ ID NOs:65 to 67 or a functionally equivalent variant thereof.

[00036] In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a recombinant microorganism wherein the microorganism is adapted to express an exogenous bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or formate-hydrogen lyase complex, and/or overexpress an endogenous bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or formate-hydrogen lyase complex such that the microorganism is adapted to utilize multiple cofactors in a reaction.

[00037] In a sixth aspect, the invention provides a method of making a recombinant microorganism which can utilize multiple cofactors in a reaction, the method comprising at least the steps of: a) selecting one or more bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or formate -hydrogen lyase complex b) transforming a parental microorganism to yield a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to utilize multiple cofactors in a reaction.

[00038] In one embodiment of the fifth or sixth aspects, the multiple co-factors comprise ferredoxin and NADPH.

[00039] In one embodiment of the fifth or sixth aspects, the parental microorganism is a carboxydotrophic Clostridia. In one embodiment, the parental microorganism is selected from the group of carboxydotrophic Clostridia comprising Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdalei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum. In one embodiment, the parental microorganism is Clostridium autoethanogenum or Clostridium ljungdahlii. In one particular embodiment, the microorganism is Clostridium autoethanogenum DSM23693 a derivate of strain DSM 10061. In another particular embodiment, the microorganism is Clostridium ljungdahlii DSM13528 (or ATCC55383).

[00040] In one embodiment of the fifth or sixth aspects, the bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase is selected from the group consisting of AEI90721, YP 003778871, AEI90722, and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[00041] In one embodiment of the fifth or sixth aspects, the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase is selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO: 10, SEQ ID NO:26 and YP 003778879, and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[00042] In one embodiment of the fifth or sixth aspects, the bifurcating formate- hydrogen lyase complex is encoded by SEQ ID NO: 65 to 67 or a functionally equivalent variant of thereof.

[00043] In a particular embodiment of the fifth or sixth aspects, the parental microorganism is transformed with one or more exogenous polynucleotides encoding a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate-hydrogen lyase complex. In one particular embodiment, the parental microorganism is transformed with one or more exogenous polynucleotides selected from the group consisting of HQ876015, CLJU_c06990, AEI90722, SEQ ID NO:9, SEQ ID NO:25, CLJU_c07070, SEQ ID NO: SEQ ID Nos:65 to 67 and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[00044] In a related aspect, the invention provides the use of a recombinant microorganism comprising a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate -hydrogen lyase complex, for the purpose of utilising multiple co-factors in a reaction. Preferably, the multiple co-factors comprise ferredoxin and NADPH. In one embodiment, the a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate -hydrogen lyase complex is as described in the fourth aspect.

[00045] In a seventh aspect, the invention provides a method of increasing the efficiency of a reaction, the method comprising the use of a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate-hydrogen lyase complex and/or a polynucleotide encoding same, and/or a recombinant microorganism adapted to express and/or overexpress same. In a particular embodiment, the reaction is a fermentation of a substrate comprising CO. The efficiency is increased due to the bifurcating enzyme utilising both ferredoxin and NADPH rather than only NADPH. Without wishing to be bound by theory, the inventors believe that coupling the more negative redox potential of ferredoxin (Ε 0 ' = -410 mV) to NAD(P)H (Ε 0 ' = -320 mV) provides greater energetic potential and drives more exergonic reactions therefore increasing the reaction rate and CO substrate throughput.

[00046] In a particular embodiment, the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, and/or a formate-hydrogen lyase complex of the seventh aspect is as described in the fourth aspect.

[00047] In an eighth aspect, the invention provides the use of a recombinant microorganism to convert NADH to NADPH, wherein the recombinant microorganism is adapted to express and/or overexpress a single NADH-dependent reduced ferredoxin :NADP+ oxidoreductase (Nfn) enzyme. In a particular embodiment, the Nfn enzyme comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 2, 4, YP 003781852.1, CLJU_c37240 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof with at least 76%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or 99% sequence identity. The Nfn enzyme converts NADH to NADPH therefore when expressed in the presence of NADH and NADPH-dependent enzymes, enzyme efficiency is increased leading to a faster reaction rate and faster regeneration rate of NADPH.

[00048] In a particular embodiment, the microorganism comprises a carboxydotrophic

Clostridia microorganism. In a further embodiment, the microorganism is selected from the group of carboxydotrophic Clostridia comprising Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdalei.

[00049] In a further embodiment, the invention provides the use as described in the eighth aspect wherein the recombinant microorganism comprises one or more modifications as described in the fifth aspect.

[00050] In a ninth aspect, the invention provides the use of a polypeptide to convert

NADH to NADPH, wherein the polypeptide comprises a single NADH-dependent reduced ferredoxin:NADP+ oxidoreductase (Nfn) enzyme according to SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, YP 003781852.1, CLJU_c37240 or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 76%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or 99% sequence identity.

[00051] In a particular embodiment, the single Nfn enzyme of the eighth or ninth aspect is encoded by a polynucleotide SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, the sequence encoding YP 003781852.1 or CLJU_c37240, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 83%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or 99% sequence identity.

[00052] In a tenth aspect, the invention provides a polynucleotide according to

SEQ ID NO. 1 or 3.

[00053] In an eleventh aspect, the invention provides a polypeptide according to

SEQ ID NO. 2 or 4.

[00054] In a twelfth aspect, the invention provides a vector comprising a polynucleotide according to the tenth aspect, or a polynucleotide which encodes a polypeptide according to the eleventh aspect.

[00055] In a thirteenth aspect, the invention provides a recombinant microorganism adapted to express a polynucleotide according to the tenth aspect, or a polypeptide according to the eleventh aspect. [00056] The invention may also be said broadly to consist in the parts, elements and features referred to or indicated in the specification of the application, individually or collectively, in any or all combinations of two or more of said parts, elements or features, and where specific integers are mentioned herein which have known equivalents in the art to which the invention relates, such known equivalents are deemed to be incorporated herein as if individually set forth.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[00057] Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[00058] Figure 1 shows the results of the enzyme assays for the oxidoreductase steps involved in the Wood Ljungdahl pathway to determine their co-factor specificities;

[00059] Figure 2 shows the difference between glycolysis (e.g. in E. coli) and autotrophic growth via the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway in carboxydotrophic Clostridia (e.g. C. autoethanogenum) in respect of co-factor usage;

[00060] Figure 3 Shows the organization of formate dehydrogenase and hydrogenase genes able to form a formate-hydrogen lyase complex;

[00061] Figure 4 shows the distribution of the qRT-PCR gene expression results, highlighting the highly expressed NADPH dependent reactions during autotrophic growth;

[00062] Figure 5 shows results of enzyme assays with a secondary alcohol dehydrogenase of C. autoethanogenum and acetone as substrate and either NADPH or NADH as co-factor. Activity was only measured with NADPH but not NADH demonstrating that this enzyme is strictly NADPH dependent; and

[00063] Figure 6 shows the continuous conversion of acetone to isopropanol via an

NADPH dependent secondary alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme at high rates. It can be seen that the acetone is converted into isopropanol shortly after introduction to the bioreactor. Even at high concentrations of 20 g/L the culture converted all acetone to isopropanol demonstrating that the NADPH pool is sufficient to sustain this even at high rate. [00064] Figure 7 shows NADPH driven product formation during growth on CO via novel electron-bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenases / NADP formate dehydrogenase/ formate -hydrogen lyase complexes.

[00065] Figure 8 shows the complete NADPH-dependent pathway for butanol biosynthesis. Each step is catalysed by and enzyme encoded in the gene annotated in italics.

[00066] Figure 9 shows an analysis of C. autoethanogenum NADPH and NADH levels.

Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments Definitions

[00067] The term "nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide" (NADH) may refer to the redox couple of both NAD+ (oxidized form) and NADH + H+ (reduced form).

[00068] The term "nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate" (NADPH) may refer to the redox couple of both NADP+ (oxidized form) and NADPH + H+ (reduced form).

[00069] As referred to herein, an "NADPH dependent enzyme" predominantly

(although not necessarily exclusively) uses NADPH as a co-factor to supply electrons to a reaction. Similarly, an NADH-dependent enzyme predominantly (although not necessarily exclusively) uses NADH as a co-factor to supply electrons to a reaction. It will also be appreciated by one of skill in the art that some enzymes are able to utilise NADPH and NADH and may be referred to as bifunctional NAD(P)H-dependent enzymes.

[00070] As referred to herein, the phrase "overall utilisation of NADPH by the microorganism is increased", or similar refers to an increase in the amount of NADPH co- factor binding to an enzyme in a particular time period. In particular embodiments, the increase is of at least 5%, at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 50%, or at least 100%. This increase may be measured according to the method used in example 3, or other methods known in the art, for example (S. Wang, Huang, Moll, & Thauer, 2010). The phrase may also be interpreted to mean that there is an increase in the NADPH flux through a pathway and the increase is of the same quanta as described above. NADPH flux may be measured by the level of metabolites and products (metaboliomics) and/or labelling experiments as C13 (fluxomics). [00071] As used herein, "co-factor specificity" refers to the degree of affinity with which a co-factor binds to an enzyme during a reaction. It should not be taken to mean that an enzyme and a co-factor have absolute specificity, although this may be the case, and includes at least a preference for the binding between a particular enzyme and one co-factor over another co-factor.

[00072] As referred to herein, an "isoform" of an enzyme is any of two or more functionally similar proteins that are able to catalyse the same reaction and have a similar but not identical amino acid sequence.

[00073] As referred to herein, a "bifurcating enzyme" is an enzyme that is able to utilise multiple co-factors where one co-factor has a lower reaction potential (such as ferredoxin) and one has a higher reaction potential (such as NADH or NADPH) in a coupled reaction to catalyse a reaction that couldn't be catalysed, or where the reaction would proceed at a lower rate, by only the co-factor with the higher reaction potential (such as NADH or NADPH). In one embodiment a bifurcating enzyme may utilise multiple co-factors to increase the rate of a reaction. The bifurcating enzyme may be a complex, such as the formate hydrogen lyase complex described herein.

[00074] The term "adapted to" may be used herein to describe a recombinant microorganism of the invention; for example, the microorganism is "adapted to" express a particular enzyme. When used in relation to the expression of an enzyme, the term does not imply that the enzyme is continuously expressed, it is intended to cover situations where the enzyme may be expressed and such expression may be constitutive or induced.

[00075] As referred to herein, a "fermentation broth" is a culture medium comprising at least a nutrient media and bacterial cells.

[00076] The terms "increasing the efficiency", "increased efficiency" and the like, when used in relation to a fermentation process, include, but are not limited to, increasing one or more of the rate of growth of microorganisms catalysing the fermentation, the growth and/or product production rate at elevated product concentrations, the volume of desired product produced per volume of substrate consumed, the rate of production or level of production of the desired product, and the relative proportion of the desired product produced compared with other by-products of the fermentation. [00077] The phrase "substrate comprising carbon monoxide" and like terms should be understood to include any substrate in which carbon monoxide is available to one or more strains of bacteria for growth and/or fermentation, for example.

[00078] The phrase "gaseous substrate comprising carbon monoxide" and like phrases and terms includes any gas which contains a level of carbon monoxide. In certain embodiments the substrate contains at least about 20% to about 100% CO by volume, from 20% to 70% CO by volume, from 30% to 60% CO by volume, and from 40% to 55% CO by volume. In particular embodiments, the substrate comprises about 25%, or about 30%>, or about 35%, or about 40%, or about 45%, or about 50% CO, or about 55% CO, or about 60% CO by volume.

[00079] While it is not necessary for the substrate to contain any hydrogen, the presence of H 2 should not be detrimental to product formation in accordance with methods of the invention. In particular embodiments, the presence of hydrogen results in an improved overall efficiency of alcohol production. For example, in particular embodiments, the substrate may comprise an approx 2: 1, or 1 : 1, or 1 :2 ratio of H 2 :CO. In one embodiment the substrate comprises about 30%> or less H 2 by volume, 20%> or less H 2 by volume, about 15% or less H 2 by volume or about 10%> or less H 2 by volume. In other embodiments, the substrate stream comprises low concentrations of H 2 , for example, less than 5%, or less than 4%), or less than 3%, or less than 2%, or less than 1%, or is substantially hydrogen free. The substrate may also contain some C0 2 for example, such as about 1% to about 80% C0 2 by volume, or 1% to about 30% C0 2 by volume. In one embodiment the substrate comprises less than or equal to about 20% C0 2 by volume. In particular embodiments the substrate comprises less than or equal to about 15% C0 2 by volume, less than or equal to about 10% C0 2 by volume, less than or equal to about 5% C0 2 by volume or substantially no C0 2 .

[00080] In the description which follows, embodiments of the invention are described in terms of delivering and fermenting a "gaseous substrate containing CO". However, it should be appreciated that the gaseous substrate may be provided in alternative forms. For example, the gaseous substrate containing CO may be provided dissolved in a liquid. Essentially, a liquid is saturated with a carbon monoxide containing gas and then that liquid is added to the bioreactor. This may be achieved using standard methodology. By way of example, a microbubble dispersion generator (Hensirisak et. al. Scale-up of microbubble dispersion generator for aerobic fermentation; Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology Volume 101, Number 3 / October, 2002) could be used. By way of further example, the gaseous substrate containing CO may be adsorbed onto a solid support. Such alternative methods are encompassed by use of the term "substrate containing CO" and the like.

[00081] In particular embodiments of the invention, the CO-containing gaseous substrate is an industrial off or waste gas. "Industrial waste or off gases" should be taken broadly to include any gases comprising CO produced by an industrial process and include gases produced as a result of ferrous metal products manufacturing, non-ferrous products manufacturing, petroleum refining processes, gasification of coal, gasification of biomass, electric power production, carbon black production, and coke manufacturing. Further examples may be provided elsewhere herein.

[00082] Unless the context requires otherwise, the phrases "fermenting", "fermentation process" or "fermentation reaction" and the like, as used herein, are intended to encompass both the growth phase and product biosynthesis phase of the process. As will be described further herein, in some embodiments the bioreactor may comprise a first growth reactor and a second fermentation reactor. As such, the addition of metals or compositions to a fermentation reaction should be understood to include addition to either or both of these reactors.

[00083] The term "bioreactor" includes a fermentation device consisting of one or more vessels and/or towers or piping arrangement, which includes the Continuous Stirred Tank Reactor (CSTR), Immobilized Cell Reactor (ICR), Trickle Bed Reactor (TBR), Bubble Column, Gas Lift Fermenter, Static Mixer, or other vessel or other device suitable for gas- liquid contact. In some embodiments the bioreactor may comprise a first growth reactor and a second fermentation reactor. As such, when referring to the addition of substrate to the bioreactor or fermentation reaction it should be understood to include addition to either or both of these reactors where appropriate.

[00084] As referred to herein, a "shuttle microorganism" is a microorganism in which a methyltransferase enzyme is expressed and is distinct from the destination microorganism.

[00085] As referred to herein, a "destination microorganism" is a microorganism in which the genes included on an expression construct/vector are expressed and is distinct from the shuttle microorganism. [00086] "Exogenous nucleic acids" are nucleic acids which originate outside of the microorganism to which they are introduced. Exogenous nucleic acids may be derived from any appropriate source, including, but not limited to, the microorganism to which they are to be introduced (for example a parental microorganism from which the recombinant microorganism is derived), strains or species of microorganisms which differ from the organism to which they are to be introduced, or they may be artificially or recombinantly created. In one embodiment, the exogenous nucleic acids represent nucleic acid sequences naturally present within the microorganism to which they are to be introduced, and they are introduced to increase expression of or over-express a particular gene (for example, by increasing the copy number of the sequence (for example a gene), or introducing a strong or constitutive promoter to increase expression). In another embodiment, the exogenous nucleic acids represent nucleic acid sequences not naturally present within the microorganism to which they are to be introduced and allow for the expression of a product not naturally present within the microorganism or increased expression of a gene native to the microorganism (for example in the case of introduction of a regulatory element such as a promoter). The exogenous nucleic acid may be adapted to integrate into the genome of the microorganism to which it is to be introduced or to remain in an extra-chromosomal state.

[00087] "Exogenous" may also be used to refer to proteins. This refers to a protein that is not present or is not capable of being expressed in a parental microorganism from which the recombinant microorganism is derived.

[00088] The term "endogenous" as used herein in relation to a recombinant microorganism and a nucleic acid refers to any nucleic acid that is present in a parental microorganism from which the recombinant microorganism is derived. When used to describe proteins, "endogenous" should be taken to refer to any protein that is present or capable of being expressed in a parental microorganism from which the recombinant microorganism is derived

[00089] "Oxidoreductases" (also known as "dehydrogenases" or "oxidases") include enzymes that catalyze the transfer of electrons from one molecule - the reductant, also called the electron donor, to another molecule - the oxidant, also called the electron acceptor. Oxidoreductases are classified as EC 1 in the EC number classification of enzymes. This group of enzymes usually requires co-factors such as NADH, NADPH or ferredoxin. [00090] An enzymatic "reaction" as referred to herein is the conversion of one or more molecules (substrates) into another one or more molecules (products) catalyzed by an enzyme.

[00091] It should be appreciated that the invention may be practised using nucleic acids whose sequence varies from the sequences specifically exemplified herein, provided they perform substantially the same function. For nucleic acid sequences that encode a protein or peptide this means that the encoded protein or peptide has substantially the same function. For nucleic acid sequences that represent promoter sequences, the variant sequence will have the ability to promote expression of one or more genes. Such nucleic acids may be referred to herein as "functionally equivalent variants". By way of example, functionally equivalent variants of a nucleic acid include allelic variants, fragments of a gene, genes which include mutations (deletion, insertion, nucleotide substitutions and the like) and/or polymorphisms and the like. Homologous genes from other microorganisms may also be considered as examples of functionally equivalent variants of the sequences specifically exemplified herein. These include homologous genes in species such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, Clostridium beijerinckii, C. ljungdahlii details of which are publicly available on websites such as Genbank or NCBI. The phrase "functionally equivalent variants" should also be taken to include nucleic acids whose sequence varies as a result of codon optimisation for a particular organism. Unless the context requires otherwise, "functionally equivalent variants" of a nucleic acid herein will preferably have at least approximately 70%, 72%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95% or greater nucleic acid sequence identity with the nucleic acid identified.

[00092] It should also be appreciated that the invention may be practised using polypeptides whose sequence varies from the amino acid sequences specifically exemplified herein. These variants may be referred to herein as "functionally equivalent variants". Unless the context requires otherwise, a functionally equivalent variant of a protein or a peptide includes those proteins or peptides that share at least 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 72%, 75%), 80%), 85%), 90%), 95% or greater amino acid identity with the protein or peptide identified and has substantially the same function as the peptide or protein of interest. Such variants include within their scope fragments of a protein or peptide wherein the fragment comprises a truncated form of the polypeptide wherein deletions may be from 1 to 5, to 10, to 15, to 20, to 25 amino acids, and may extend from residue 1 through 25 at either terminus of the polypeptide, and wherein deletions may be of any length within the region; or may be at an internal location. Functionally equivalent variants of the specific polypeptides herein should also be taken to include polypeptides expressed by homologous genes in other species of bacteria, for example as exemplified in the previous paragraph.

[00093] "Substantially the same function" as used herein is intended to mean that the nucleic acid or polypeptide is able to perform the function of the nucleic acid or polypeptide of which it is a variant. For example, a variant of an enzyme of the invention will be able to catalyse the same reaction as that enzyme. However, it should not be taken to mean that the variant has the same level of activity as the polypeptide or nucleic acid of which it is a variant.

[00094] One may assess whether a functionally equivalent variant has substantially the same function as the nucleic acid or polypeptide of which it is a variant using methods known to one of skill in the art. However, by way of example, assays to test for hydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase or methylene-THF-dehydrogenase activity are described in(Huang, Wang, Moll, & Thauer, 2012).

[00095] "Over-express", "over expression" and like terms and phrases when used in relation to the invention should be taken broadly to include any increase in expression of one or more proteins (including expression of one or more nucleic acids encoding same) as compared to the expression level of the protein (including nucleic acids) of a parental microorganism under the same conditions. It should not be taken to mean that the protein (or nucleic acid) is expressed at any particular level.

[00096] "Attenuated expression" as referred to herein refers to the expression of a nucleic acid or protein that is decreased relative to its expression in a parental microorganism. In one embodiment, attenuated expression may include substantially no expression (or substantially "zero" expression). This may be achieved by any method known to one of skill in the art including, for example, R A silencing, modification of the expression process (for example disruption of the promoter function), alteration or modification of a nucleic acid sequence (including deletion, addition and substitution of one or more nucleotide), or complete or partial removal of the nucleic acid encoding the enzyme from the genome. Where a gene is made inoperative it may be referred to herein as a "knock-out" or having been "knocked out" or like terms. [00097] A "parental microorganism" is a microorganism used to generate a recombinant microorganism of the invention. The parental microorganism may be one that occurs in nature (i.e. a wild type microorganism) or one that has been previously modified but which does not express or over-express one or more of the enzymes the subject of the present invention. Accordingly, the recombinant microorganisms of the invention are modified to express or over-express one or more enzymes that were not expressed or over- expressed in the parental microorganism

[00098] In one embodiment, the microorganism is selected from the group of acetogenic carboxydotrophic organisms comprising the species Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdalei, Clostridium carboxidivorans, Clostridium drakei, Clostridium scatologenes, Clostridium aceticum, Clostridium formicoaceticum, Clostridium magnum, Acetobacterium woodii, Alkalibaculum bacchii, Moorella thermoacetica, Sporomusa ovate, Butyribacterium methylotrophicum, Blautia producta, Eubacterium limosum, Thermoanaerobacter kiuvi.

[00099] These carboxydotrophic acetogens are defined by their ability to utilize and grow chemoautotrophically on gaseous one-carbon (CI) sources such as carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (C02) with carbon monoxide (CO) and/or hydrogen (H2) as energy source under anaerobic conditions forming acetyl-CoA, acetate and other products. They share the same mode of fermentation, the Wood-Ljungdahl or reductive acetyl-CoA pathway, and are defined by the presence of the enzyme set consisting of Carbon monoxide dehydrogenase (CODH), Hydrogenase, Formate dehydrogenase, Formyl-tetrahydrofolate synthetase, Methylene-tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase, Formyl-tetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase, Methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase, and Carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/ Acetyl-CoA synthase (CODH/ ACS), which combination is characteristic and unique to this type of bacteria (Drake, Kusel, Matthies, Wood, & Ljungdahl, 2006). In contrast to chemoheterotrophic growth of sugar-fermenting bacteria that convert the substrate into biomass, secondary metabolites and pyruvate from which products are formed (either via acetyl-CoA or directly), in acetogens the substrate is channelled directly into acetyl-CoA, from which products, biomass, and secondary metabolites are formed. [000100] In a one embodiment, the microorganism is selected from a cluster of carboxydotrophic Clostridia comprising the species C. autoethanogenum, C. ljungdahlii, and "C. ragsdalei" and related isolates. These include but are not limited to strains C. autoethanogenum JAI-1 T (DSM 10061) (Abrini, Naveau, & Nyns, 1994), C. autoethanogenum LBS 1560 (DSM 19630) (WO/2009/064200), C. autoethanogenum LBS1561 (DSM23693), C. ljungdahlii PETC T (DSM13528 = ATCC 55383) (Tanner, Miller, & Yang, 1993), C. ljungdahlii ERI-2 (ATCC 55380) (US patent 5,593,886), C. ljungdahlii C- 01 (ATCC 55988) (US patent 6,368,819), C. ljungdahlii 0-52 (ATCC 55989) (US patent 6,368,819), or "C. ragsdalei P11 T " (ATCC BAA-622) (WO 2008/028055), and related isolates such as "C. coskatii" (US patent 2011/0229947), "Clostridium sp. MT351 " (Tyurin & Kiriukhin, 2012), "Clostridium sp. MT 653 "(Berzin, Kiriukhin, & Tyurin, 2012a), "Clostridium sp. MT683 " (Berzin, 2012), "Clostridium sp. MT962 " (Berzin, Kiriukhin, & Tyurin, 2013) "Clostridium sp. MT1121 " (Berzin, Kiriukhin, & Tyurin, 2012b), "Clostridium sp. MT1230 " (Kiriukhin & Tyurin, 2013), or "Clostridium sp. MT1962 " (Berzin, Tyurin, & Kiriukhin, 2013), and mutant strains thereof such as C. ljungdahlii OTA-1 (Tirado-Acevedo O. Production of Bioethanol from Synthesis Gas Using Clostridium ljungdahlii. PhD thesis, North Carolina State University, 2010) or "Clostridium sp. MT896 " (Berzin, Kiriukhin, & Tyurin, 2012c).

[000101] These strains form a subcluster within the Clostridial rRNA cluster I (Collins et al, 1994), having at least 99% identity on 16S rRNA gene level, although being distinct species as determined by DNA-DNA reassociation and DNA fingerprinting experiments (WO 2008/028055, US patent 2011/0229947).

[000102] The strains of this cluster are defined by common characteristics, having both a similar genotype and phenotype, and they all share the same mode of energy conservation and fermentative metabolism. The strains of this cluster lack cytochromes and conserve energy via an Rnf complex.

[000103] All strains of this cluster have a genome size of around 4.2 MBp (Kopke et al., 2010) and a GC composition of around 32 %mol (Abrini et al., 1994; Kopke et al., 2010; Tanner et al, 1993) (WO 2008/028055; US patent 2011/0229947), and conserved essential key gene operons encoding for enzymes of Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (Carbon monoxide dehydrogenase, Formyl-tetrahydrofolate synthetase, Methylene-tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase, Formyl-tetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase, Methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase, and Carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/Acetyl-CoA synthase), hydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase, Rnf complex (rnfCDGEAB), pyruvate :ferredoxin oxidoreductase, aldehyde :ferredoxin oxidoreductase (Kopke et al., 2010, 2011). The organization and number of Wood-Ljungdahl pathway genes, responsible for gas uptake, has been found to be the same in all species, despite differences in nucleic and amino acid sequences (Kopke et al, 2011).

[000104] The strains all have a similar morphology and size (logarithmic growing cells are between 0.5-0.7 x 3-5 μιη), are mesophilic (optimal growth temperature between 30-37 °C) and strictly anaerobe (Abrini et al, 1994; Tanner et al, 1993)(WO 2008/028055). Moreover, they all share the same major phylogenetic traits, such as same pH range (pH 4- 7.5, with an optimal initial pH of 5.5-6), strong autotrophic growth on CO containing gases with similar growth rates, and a metabolic profile with ethanol and acetic acid as main fermentation end product, with small amounts of 2,3-butanediol and lactic acid formed under certain conditions (Abrini et al., 1994; Kopke et al., 2011; Tanner et al., 1993)(WO differentiate in substrate utilization of various sugars (e.g. rhamnose, arabinose), acids (e.g. gluconate, citrate), amino acids (e.g. arginine, histidine), or other substrates (e.g. betaine, butanol). Some of the species were found to be auxotroph to certain vitamins (e.g. thiamine, biotin) while others were not. Reduction of carboxylic acids into their corresponding alcohols has been shown in a range of these organisms (Perez, Richter, Loftus, & Angenent, 2012).

[000105] The traits described are therefore not specific to one organism like C. autoethanogenum or C. ljungdahlii, but rather general traits for carboxydotrophic, ethanol- synthesizing Clostridia. Thus, the invention can be anticipated to work across these strains, although there may be differences in performance.

[000106] In certain embodiments, the parental microorganism is selected from the group comprising Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, and Clostridium ragsdalei. In one embodiment, the group also comprises Clostridium coskatii. In one particular embodiment, the parental microorganism is Clostridium autoethanogenum DSM23693. [000107] The terms nucleic acid "constructs" or "vectors" and like terms should be taken broadly to include any nucleic acid (including DNA and RNA) suitable for use as a vehicle to transfer genetic material into a cell. The terms should be taken to include plasmids, viruses (including bacteriophage), cosmids and artificial chromosomes, for example constructs or vectors may include one or more regulatory elements, an origin of replication, a multicloning site and/or a selectable marker. In one particular embodiment, the constructs or vectors are adapted to allow expression of one or more genes encoded by the construct or vector. Nucleic acid constructs or vectors include naked nucleic acids as well as nucleic acids formulated with one or more agents to facilitate delivery to a cell (for example, liposome-conjugated nucleic acid, an organism in which the nucleic acid is contained).

[000108] All known examples of carboxydotrophic Clostridia growing on waste gases and syngas use NADH-dependent reactions. The redox pair NADPH + H /NADP + has a more negative redox potential than the NADH+ H+/NAD+ redox pair (Auriol et al., 2011). Under in vivo conditions the redox potential E ' of the NAD+/NADH couple is about -280 mV (Eo ' = -320 mV) whereas E Of the NADP+/NADPH couple is about -360 mV (Eo ' = -320 mV). The inventors have surprisingly found that a number of enzymes involved in autotrophic growth for uptake and utilization of CO, C0 2 , and H 2 gases (for example hydrogenase enzymes and Wood-Ljungdahl pathway enzymes) show a clear bias towards utilisation of NADPH over NADH. This is in complete contrast to for example glycolysis of sugar utilizing bacteria such as E. coli which serves as a model for most bacterial processes and is completely NADH biased. These E. coli based reactions do not include an NADPH dependent reaction step but do include several NADH dependent steps (glucose + 2 NAD+ + 2 ADP + 2 Pi -> 2 Pyruvate + 2 NADH + 2 H+ + 2 ATP + 2 H20; figure 2).

[000109] NADPH-dependent reactions in E. coli have been shown to quickly deplete the NADPH pool and lead to cell growth inhibition and death. This lack of NADPH capacity in E. coli has led previous studies to attempt to reduce NADPH dependency and the studies therefore suggest that increasing NADPH utilization would be undesirable in fermentation reactions. It was therefore surprising for the inventors to find that the carboxydotrophic Clostridia referred to herein have a relatively large capacity for NADPH-dependent reactions to proceed. [000110] The inventors have demonstrated the relatively large capacity of the NADPH pool in carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganisms by an experiment which monitors the acetone conversion in a bioreactor by an NADPH-dependent enzyme (see example 3). Accordingly, the inventors have shown that the use of NADPH over NADH would be favourable to drive enzymatic reactions in a fermentation process.

[000111] Thus existing strategies for E. coli, using NADH dependent reactions and bypassing NADPH dependent reactions (which result in a reduction in product yields and require extensive modifications) are not productive in carboxydotrophic Clostridia. The invention as described herein provides a strategy to overcome this by preferentially selecting for NADPH dependent reactions in carboxydotrophic Clostridia to achieve maximum product yields for metabolic engineering. The capacity and potential of NADPH dependent reactions is shown in example 3 as well as the difference to sugar utilizing E. coli. Similarly this strategy can be applied for heterologous pathways to achieve maximum product yield and flux.

[000112] Additionally, the inventors have identified that that NADPH dependent reactions proliferate in carboxydotrophic microorganisms. This enables the development of selection techniques to identify and characterise enzymes and genes that use the NADPH pool. Recombinant microorganisms that can express or over-express enzymes selected according to these techniques have utility in improving the efficiency of carboxydotrophic microorganisms and increasing the production of their desirable products.

[000113] In contrast to what is taught by the prior art in relation to sugar utilizing organisms such as E. coli, the inventors contemplate that NADPH dependent reactions are not an undesirable bottleneck when considering carboxydotrophic microorganisms. The inventors believe that in fact the enzymes that utilise NADPH are positively desirable as they have increased activity in its presence when compared to their activity in the presence of NADH.

[000114] The finding that NADPH-dependent enzymes can be used to drive production of desirable products has led the inventors to engineer novel recombinant microorganisms which can express or over-express these enzymes. These recombinant microorganisms enable novel pathways to be explored and desirable products to be produced. In particular embodiments, the recombinant microorganisms are carboxydotrophic microorganisms. Whereas it was previously thought that NADPH dependent enzymes should be avoided or bypassed, the inventors have surprisingly shown that utilization of these enzymes in carboxydotrophic microorganisms does not cause a decrease in microbial growth and/or production and that extensive engineering to avoid such enzymes is not necessary.

[000115] According to the first aspect of the invention, there is provided a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism adapted to express one or more exogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes, and/or adapted to over-express one or more endogenous enzymes, the enzymes selected such that when the exogenous enzyme is expressed, and/or the endogenous enzyme is overexpressed, the overall utilisation of NADPH by the microorganism is increased relative to a parental microorganism.

[000116] In a further aspect, the invention also provides a method of producing a recombinant carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganism which exhibits increased NADPH utilisation relative to a parental microorganism, the method comprising: a. selecting one or more exogenous and/or endogenous NADPH-dependent enzymes; b. transforming a parental microorganism to yield a recombinant microorganism which is adapted to express the one or more exogenous enzymes, and/or over-express the one or more endogenous enzymes.

The expression or over-expression of any one or more of the NADPH-dependent enzymes in the microorganism results in an overall increase in the utilisation of NADPH relative to a microorganism in which the one or more enzymes are not expressed or are not over- expressed.

[000117] The one or more enzymes may exist in NADH and NADPH dependent iso forms. In a particular embodiment the recombinant microorganism is adapted to express and/or overexpress the NADPH-dependent isoform. The methods of the invention are of particular utility where the utilisation of NADPH and NADH is in similar range, i.e. the activity of the isoform utilising the co-factor when it binds to an NADH co-factor is similar to the activity of an isoform when it binds to a NADPH co-factor.

[000118] In a particular embodiment, the one or more NADPH-dependent enzymes comprises hydrogenase (for example having an amino acid sequence as per Seq.ID 6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26,28,30,32, YP_003781016, YP_003781017, ΥΡ_003778879, ΥΡ 003779640, ΥΡ 003779893, YP 003780193, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof), formate dehydrogenase (having an amino acid sequence for example of AEI90721, AEI90723, AEI90725, YP 003779063, YP 003778871, YP 003780168, AEI90722, AEI90724, AEI90726, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof) or methylene-THF-dehydrogenase (having an amino acid sequence, for example, of AEI90753, YP 003781891, AEI90771 or a functionally equivalent variant thereof).

[000119] In particular embodiments of the invention, there exists a choice of NADPH and NADH dependent reactions. The invention provides a recombinant microorganism and a method that preferentially makes use of the NADPH-dependent isoforms compared to the NADH dependent isoforms as a way of increasing the overall utilization of NADPH relative to NADPH utilization in a parental microorganism. Examples of such pathways and oxidoreductase reactions include:

Mevalonate pathway for isoprenoid production:

o Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase (S . M. Ma et al. , 2011 ) :

NADPH-dependent enzyme (EC 1.1.1.34; GO:0004420; e.g.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae DAA09822.1;

BK006946.2: 115734..118898) and

NADH-dependent enzyme (ECl .1.1.88; GO:0042282; e.g.

Pseudomonas mevalonii: P13702.1)

Butanol/PHB pathway (Bond- Watts, Bellerose, & Chang, 2011):

o 3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase/ acetoacetyl-CoA reductase / 3- hydroxybutyryl-CoA hydratase:

NADPH dependent phaB (EC: 1.1.1.36; GO:0018454; e.g. from

Ralstonia eutropha: YP_725942.1, GeneID:4249784) and

NADPH dependent phaJ (EC 4.2.1.119; e.g. from A eromonas

punctata: BAA21816.1)

NADH dependent hbd (EC 1.1.1.157; GO :0008691; e.g. from C.

acetobutylicum: NP_349314.1, GeneID:l 118891)

o Crotonyl-CoA reductase/ crotonyl-CoA carboxylase-reductase / trans-2-enoyl- CoA reductase/butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase (Hu et al, 2012): NADPH dependent ccr (EC 1.3.1.86; e.g. from Streptomyces collinus) or CCVR S (EC 1.3.1.85; e.g. from Rhodobacter sphaeroides:

YP 354044.1, Gene ID: 3720751)

NADH dependent ter (EC 1.3.1.44; GO:0050343; e.g. from

Treponema denticola)

NADH/ferredoxin bifurcating bcd-etfAB complex (EC 1.3.8.1;

GO:0004085; e.g. from C. acetobutylicum: NP 349317.1;

GenelD: 1118894) (Li et al, 2008) or

NADH / NADPH Afunctional dependent ter (EC 1.3.1.44;

GO:0050343; e.g. from Euglena gracilis: AY741582.1) (Hoffmeister, Piotrowski, Nowitzki, & Martin, 2005)

[000120] For most oxidoreductase reactions involving dehydrogenases (e.g. alcohol dehydrogenases for ethanol or butanol, or diol dehydrogenases for butanediol) and oxidases, a choice of either NADH or NADPH dependent enzymes is available and respective enzymes can be identified using databases such as Braunschweig Enzyme database BRENDA (http://www.brenda-enzymes.mfo/) (Scheer et al., 2011).

[000121] In a particular embodiment the microorganism is adapted to express and/or over-express an NADPH-dependent isoform while the expression of a corresponding NADH- dependent isoform is unchanged, decreases, or exhibits a comparatively smaller increase when compared to the change in expression of the NADPH-dependent isoform. In this way, the overall utilisation of NADPH is increased relative to a parental microorganism.

[000122] In a particular embodiment, the invention provides a recombinant microorganism with attenuated or zero expression of one or more NADH-dependent enzymes. In one particular embodiment, the expression of the one or more NADH-dependent isoforms has been attenuated or knocked out compared to a parental microorganism. Attenuation/knockout may be achieved by modifying a nucleic acid encoding the one or more NADH-dependent enzyme or replacing one or more nucleic acid encoding an NADH- dependent isoform with one or more nucleic acid encoding an NADPH-dependent isoform. Attenuation or knock-out of the enzyme may be achieved by transformation of a parental microorganism to arrive at the microorganisms of the invention using any number of known transformation and recombinant nucleic acid techniques. Particular methods that can achieve attenuation or knock-out in carboxydotrophic acetogens are described in Leang, Ueki, & Lovley, 2011 and further techniques are described for example in Sambrook et al, (Molecular Cloning: A laboratory manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 1989). By way of general example, in the case of introducing a mutation into a gene, or otherwise disrupting or knocking out a gene, an appropriate nucleic acid construct or vector can be designed to integrate into the genome of the parental microorganism to disrupt the gene. Such constructs will typically include nucleic acid sequences (arms) homologous to a region within or flanking the gene to be disrupted, which allow for homologous recombination to occur, and the introduction of a mutation, the excision of a region of nucleic acid from the gene, or the substitution of a region of the gene with a nucleic acid on the contrast, to occur. While it is preferred that the arms on the constructs have 100% complementarity to the region in the genome which they are targeted to, this is not necessary, provided that the sequence is sufficiently complementary to allow for targeted recombination with the genetic region of interest. Typically, the arms will have a level of homology which would allow for hybridisation to a target region under stringent conditions, as defined in Sambrook et al 1989. Skilled persons will appreciate nucleic acid sequences sufficient to allow for targeted homologous recombination and integration of an exogenous nucleic acid into the genome of a parental microorganism having regard to the available sequence information for the enzymes involved in the invention as described herein.

[000123] In one embodiment, the enzyme may exhibit multiple co-factor dependence. Such enzymes may comprise a NADH/ferredoxin bifurcating enzyme or a NADH/NADPH co-dependent enzyme. In a particular embodiment, the enzyme exists in an NADH/NADPH bifurcating isoform and an NADH/Ferredoxin bifurcating isoform and the microorganism is adapted to express and/or overexpress the NADH / NADPH dependent isoform. In a particular embodiment, the NADH/NADPH dependent isoform is ter (EC 1.3.1.44; GO:0050343; from Euglena gracilis: AY741582.1 or a functionally equivalent variant thereof). In a a further embodiment, the NADH/Fd dependent isoform is NADH/ferredoxin bifurcating bcd-etfAB complex (EC 1.3.8.1; GO:0004085; e.g. from C. acetobutylicum: NP 349317.1; GeneID: l 118894 or a functionally equivalent variant thereof).

[000124] In a particular embodiment of the invention, the microorganism exhibits increased efficiency during a fermentation reaction when compared to a parental microorganism. Microorganisms involved in the production of fermentation products use NADPH as a co-factor to drive reactions involved in growth and production of fermentation products. If such microorganisms express enzymes with a high affinity for NADPH cofactors when compared to NADH cofactors, there exists the potential for their efficiency (see definition above) to be increased if there is an increase of the utilisation of NADPH.

[000125] Enzymes of the invention are involved in the biosynthetic pathways to produce a number of products. In particular embodiments, the pathway is the mevalonate pathway or the butanol synthesis pathway.

[000126] In one embodiment of the invention, the co-factor specificity of the one or more NADPH-dependent enzymes may be modified to increase its NADPH co-factor specificity relative to its NADH co-factor specificity.

[000127] In a particular embodiment, the invention provides a method of increasing the efficiency of a carboxydotrophic microorganism by increasing the NADPH co-factor specificity of an oxidoreductase enzyme relative to the NADH co-factor specificity of the enzyme.

[000128] The co-factor specificity of oxidoreductase enzymes may be modified from NADH to NADPH (or vice versa) by modifying the amino acid sequence, particularly in a region of the enzyme contributing to or forming a part of the respective NADH and NADPH binding pockets. The NADH/NADPH binding pocket may be modified in other ways known in the art.

[000129] Modification of the amino acid sequence may comprise the addition, deletion and/or substitution of one or more amino acid residues, or one or more other modifications that may be readily known in the art. The modification may occur in any region of an enzyme. However, in one embodiment it is in the NADH binding pocket.

[000130] In a particular embodiment, the modification of the amino acid sequence comprises the modification of particular amino acid residue(s) in NADH binding pocket as for example of a glutamic acid residue for butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase enzyme. In a particular embodiment, the glutamic acid residue is Glu75 in bed of C. acetobutylicum and/or Glu80 in T. denticola. In one embodiment, modifications to achieve desired co-factor specificity known in the art, for example the modifications described in Hu et al (2012) may be used.

[000131] In a particular embodiment, the inventors envisage that the modification of co- factor specificity may be achieved through structural analysis of the above-mentioned Crotonyl-CoA reductase/ trans-2-enoyl-CoA reductase/butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase from various species and conservation of Glu (Glu75 in bed of C. acetobutylicum and Glu80 in T. denticola) which plays an important role in discriminating NADH against NADPH. Without wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that this occurs by the enzyme recognizing the 2' -OH of the adenine ribose of NADH. In NADPH dependent enzymes this residue is modified (Hu et al., 2012).

[000132] Methods to achieve the modification of co-factor specificity will be known to one of skill in the art. However, by way of example, the methods used in the following examples which relate to change of co-factor specificity for various oxidoreductase enzymes may be used:

• 1,3-propanediol oxidoreductase (C. Ma, Zhang, Dai, & Xiu, 2010)

• p-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase (Eppink, Overkamp, Schreuder, & Van Berkel, 1999)

• 17P-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (McKeever et al, 2002)

• Ketol Acid Reductoisomerase (Rane & Calvo, 1997) Novel bifurcating enzyme

[000133] Electron-bifurcation is a recently discovered mechanism of coupling endergonic to exergonic redox reactions in the cytoplasm of anaerobic bacteria and Archaea. To date, only a few electron-bifurcating enzyme complexes have been identified and 4 have been characterized (Herrmann, Jayamani, Mai, & Buckel, 2008; Huang et al., 2012; Li et al., 2008; Schuchmann & Mueller, 2012; Schut & Adams, 2009; G. Wang & Wang, 1984). In 2008 it was discovered that in butyric acid forming Clostridia the exergonic reduction of crotonyl-CoA (Eo ' = -10 mV) with NADH (Eo ' = -320 MV) is coupled with the endergonic reduction of ferredoxin (Eo'= -400 mV) with NADH and that the coupled reaction is catalyzed by the cytoplasmic butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase-electron transfer flavoprotein complex Bcd-EtfAB (Herrmann, Jayamani, Mai, & Buckel, 2008; Li et al., 2008). It is suggested that this process is flavin-based: a protein bound flavin is reduced by NADH to the hydroquinone which is subsequently re-oxidized by crotonyl-CoA to the semiquinone radical which has a redox potential sufficiently negative to reduce ferredoxin (Fd). To date, few electron-bifurcating enzyme complexes have been identified and 4 have been characterized (Herrmann et al., 2008; Huang et al., 2012; Li et al., 2008; Schuchmann & Mueller, 2012; Schut & Adams, 2009; G. Wang & Wang, 1984). Beside the Bcd-EtfAB complex of reaction 1, the the MvfiADG-HdrABC complex from methanogenic Archaea catalyzing reaction 2, the NfnAB complex from bacteria and archaea catalyzing reaction 3 and the HydABC complex from bacteria catalyzing reaction 4.

(1) 2NADH + Fdox + crotonyl-CoA→ 2 NAD + + Fd red 2" + butyryl-CoA

AG° ' = -44 kJ/mol*

(2) 2H 2 + CoM-S-S-CoB + Fd ox → CoM-SH + CoB-SH + Fd red 2" + 2H +

AG 0 ' = -50 kJ/mol*

(3) NADH + Fd r ed 2" + 2NADP + + H + ^ NAD + + Fd ox + 2NADPH

AG° ' = - 16 kJ/mol*

(4) NADH + Fd red 2" + 3H + ^ NAD + + Fd ox + 2H 2

* Under standard conditions (1 M concentrations of substrates and products; partial pressure of gases = 1 bar; pH = 7) using an Eo ' of -400 mV

[000134] All of these complexes are NADH dependent, amongst them two a heteromeric Fe-only hydrogenase reversibly coupling the endergonic reduction of ferredoxin with H 2 with the exergonic reduction of NAD with H 2 (Schuchmann & Mueller, 2012; Schut & Adams, 2009). The inventors have identified for the first time an NADPH dependent bifurcating enzyme (reaction 5), a novel electron-bifurcating [FeFe]-hydrogenase that is NADP rather than NAD specific. (5) NADPH + Fd red 2" + 3H + ^ NADP + + Fd ox + 2H 2

AG 0 ' = +21 kJ/mol*

* Under standard conditions (1 M concentrations of substrates and products; partial pressure of gases = 1 bar; pH = 7) using an Eo ' of -400 mV

[000135] Without being bound to this theory, the role of this complex in addition to a hydrogenase is to act as formate:hydrogen lyase. In this function it represents an electron overflow valve for NADPH driven product formation by forming H 2 and formate by reduction of protons and C0 2 , respectively, when the intracellular redox potential of the Fdo x /Fd r ed 2" couple and of the NADP+/NADPH couple get too low due to CO overreduction.

[000136] Under in vivo conditions the redox potential E ' of the NAD+/NADH couple is about -280 mV (Eo ' = -320 mV) and E Of the NADP+/NADPH couple is about -360 mV (Eo ' = -320 mV). The redox potential E ' of the Fdox/Fdred2- couple is -400 mV (Eo ' from C. pasteurianum ferredoxin) which is considerably lower. As such, this bifurcation process aspect of the invention provides advantages such as faster reaction rates.

[000137] Under In vivo conditions, the redox potential of ferredoxin is predicted to be near -500 mV, NADP at a redox potential near -370 mV and NAD at a redox potential near -280 mV. The redox potential difference between the Fd ox /Fd re d 2 couple and of the NAD /NADH couple of about 200 mV is large enough to be coupled with electron transport phosphorylation mediated by the membrane associated Rnf complex and an F 0 Fi ATP synthase. It is predicted that NAD + reduction with ferredoxin is the main coupling site in the energy metabolism of C. autoethanogenum growing on CO. NAD + is continuously regenerated via the Nfn catalyzed reaction yielding NADPH that can then drive product formation (Figure 7).

[000138] The inventors have identified a novel electron-bifurcating [FeFe] -hydrogenase that is NADP rather than NAD specific. The inventors have also identified that a formate dehydrogenase expressed in C. autoethanogenum can utilise both ferredoxin and NADPH rather than only NADPH (referred to herein as a bifurcating formate dehydrogenase).

[000139] The novel functions of these enzymes were previously unknown and are the first NADPH-dependent bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase and bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase enzymes to be identified. Further studies by the inventors have indicated that the NADP Fe-only hydrogenase and the NADP formate dehydrogenase form an enzyme complex, referred to herein as a formate-hydrogen lyase complex. In particular embodiments, this complex also has utility in the production of recombinant microorgansisms for achieving multiple co-factor dependence.

[000140] Accordingly, the invention provides the use of a recombinant microorganism, a polypeptide, or a polynucleotide expressing or encoding said enzyme for the purpose of utilising multiple co-factors (for example ferredoxin and NADPH) in a reaction. In a particular embodiment, the polypeptide comprises a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase according to AEI90721, YP 003778871, AEI90722, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof.

[000141] In a particular embodiment, the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase is selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO: 10, SEQ ID NO:26 and YP 003778879, and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[000142] In a particular embodiment, the bifurcating formate-hydrogen lyase complex is encoded by SEQ ID NOs:65 to 67 or a functionally equivalent variant thereof.

[000143] In a particular embodiment, the polynucleotide encoding a bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, NADP formate dehydrogenase or formate -hydrogen lyase complex, comprises one or more polynucleotides selected from the group consisting of HQ876015, CLJU_c06990, AEI90722, SEQ ID NO:9, SEQ ID NO:25, CLJU_c07070, SEQ ID NOs: 67 to 69 and a functionally equivalent variant of any one or more thereof.

[000144] The protein encoding genes for the bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase and the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase were found by the inventors in a single gene cluster, along with genes for an iron-sulfur flavoprotein with a NADP binding site, iron- sulfur (FeS) proteins and a selenocysteine- and molybdopterin-containing formate dehydrogenase (Fig. 3). It is proposed by the inventors that these genes encode a functional complex which will be referred to herein as a formate hydrogen lyase (see example 1). Iron- sulfur flavoprotein, iron-sulfur (FeS) proteins and formate and molybdenum accessory proteins comprise which make up the gene cluster are encoded by the polypeptides as shown in the table 1 below: Table 1 : Sequences for complete formate -hydrogen lyase complex cluster autoethanogenum: Seq ID 65, C. ljungdahlii: Seq ID 66, and C. ragsdalei: Seq. ID 67). FeS cluster Seq ID 47-48 CLJU_c07080; Seq ID 63-64

YP 003778880

[000145] The invention also provides a recombinant carboxydotrophic microorganism expressing the novel bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase, bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase and/or a formate-hydrogen lyase, when used for the purpose of utilising multiple co-factors in a reaction. Preferably, the multiple co-factors comprise ferredoxin and NADPH.

[000146] The invention also provides a method of increasing the efficiency of the fermentation of a CO-containing substrate by using a recombinant carboxydotrophic microorganism expressing a bifurcating hydrogenase as described above. The efficiency is increased due to the bifurcating enzyme utilising both ferredoxin and NADPH rather than only NADPH. The more negative redox potential of ferredoxin compared to NADPH provides greater energetic potential to the reaction therefore increasing the reaction rate and CO substrate throughput.

[000147] In addition, the inventors have identified a novel Nfn enzyme in carboxydotrophic Clostridium species including C. autoethanogenum, C. ljungdahlii and C. ragsdalei. This Nfn enzyme is able to reduce NADP + to NADPH + H + to replenish the pool at the expense of NADH + + H + (or vice versa) (reaction 2):

(2) Fdred 2" + NADH + 2 NADP + + H + ^ Fd ox + NAD + + 2 NADPH

[000148] This enzyme has been described for only one organism so far, C. kluyveri (S. Wang et al., 2010), where it is composed of two subunits NfnA and Nf B that form a complex. The inventors identified activity in cells of C. autoethanogenum and identified the corresponding gene (example 4). This is the first time a single Nfn gene has been identified and the first identified Nfn enzyme in carboxydotrophic organisms. Having only one subunit, rather than a complex of two subunits has advantages including in producing and modifying the enzyme.

[000149] Without being bound to this theory, the inventors believe that the two novel complexes electron-bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenases / NADP formate dehydrogenase/formate-hydrogen lyase and Nfh complex play a crucial role in energy conservation and formation of reduced product from CO, which is driven by NADPH along with described ferredoxin dependent Carbon monoxide dehydrogenase (CODH), F0F 1 Rnf complex (Kopke et al, 2010; Tremblay, Zhang, Dar, Leang, & Lovley, 2012) of reactions 7-9 (Figure 7).

(7) CO + H 2 0 + Fd ox ^ C0 2 + Fd red 2~ + 2 H +

(8) Fd red 2" + NAD + + H + ^ .Fd ox + NADH + ΔμΗ +

(9) ΔμΗ + + 0.5 ADP + 0.5 Pi ^ 0.5 ATP + 0.5 H 2 0

[000150] Ferredoxin operates in vivo at a redox potential more negative than -400 mV, NADP at a redox potential near -360 mV and NAD at a redox potential near -280 mV. The redox potential difference between the Fd ox /Fd red 2~ couple and of the NAD + /NADH couple of more than 120 mV is large enough to be coupled with electron transport phosphorylation mediated by the membrane associated Rnf complex (reaction 8) and an FoFi ATP synthase (reaction 9). NAD + is continuously regenerated via the Nfh complex catalyzed reaction 6 yielding NADPH and via other NADH dependent reactions. NADPH can then be used to drive product formation along with other NADPH dependent reactions identified (Figure 7).

[000151] Because of the highly negative redox potential of CO (- 520 mV), it is likely to over reduce ferredoxin and NADP when these electron carriers cannot be re- oxidized rapidly enough. One way to increase the rate of ferredoxin- and NADPH re- oxidation is to increase the rate of reduced product formation selecting NADPH dependent reactions.

[000152] The results in table 2 below show that carboxydotrophic microorganisms expressing the Nfn enzyme have the capacity to convert NADH to NADPH for use by NADPH-dependent enzymes. Table 2

[000153] The Nfn enzyme was found by the inventors to be traced back to a single gene/protein (Seq. ID Nos 1 and 2 respectively in C. autoethanogenum), not two as in C. kluyveri. A similar gene encoding this enzyme is also present in C. ljungdahlii (YP_003781852.1; CLJU_c37240) (where it is annotated as glutamate synthase) and C. ragsdalei (Seq_ID Nos: 3 and 4).

[000154] The inventors envisage that upregulating the expression of the Nfn gene, or a functional variant thereof, in a recombinant microorganism will enable an increase in the efficiency of NADPH-dependent enzymes and lead to higher product output from a fermentation reaction.

[000155] Accordingly, in a particular aspect, the invention provides a method of increasing the efficiency of production of a microorganism by expressing or over-expressing an Nfn enzyme complex.

[000156] In a particular embodiment, the invention provides the use of a recombinant microorganism to convert NADH to NADPH increasing the NADPH pool size, wherein the recombinant microorganism is adapted to express and/or overexpress a single Nfn enzyme. In a particular embodiment, the Nfn enzyme comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID No. 2, 4, YP_003781852.1, CLJU_c37240 or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof with at least 76%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or 99% sequence identity . The Nfn enzyme converts NADH to NADPH therefore when expressed in the presence of NADH and NADPH-dependent enzymes, enzyme efficiency is increased leading to a faster reaction rate and faster regeneration rate of NADPH. [000157] In a particular embodiment, the microorganism comprises a carboxy do trophic Clostridia microorganism. In a further embodiment, the microorganism is selected from the group of carboxydotrophic Clostridia comprising Clostridium autoethanogenum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium ragsdalei.

[000158] The invention also provides the use of a polypeptide to convert NADH to NADPH, wherein the polypeptide comprises a single Nfn enzyme according to SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, YP 003781852.1, CLJU_c37240, or a functionally equivalent variant of any one thereof. Further, the invention provides the use of a polynucleotide to convert NADH to NADPH, wherein the polynucleotide encodes a single Nfn enzyme, the polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, the sequence encoding CLJU_c37240 or YP 003781852.1, or a functionally equivalent variant thereof with at least 83%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or 99%> sequence identity.

[000159] In a further aspect, the invention provides a polynucleotide according to SEQ ID NO. 1 or 3.

[000160] In a further aspect, the invention provides a polypeptide according to SEQ ID NO. 2 or 4. In a further aspect, the invention provides a vector and/or a recombinant microorganism comprising a novel Nfn polynucleotide, and/or a polynucleotide encoding a novel Nfn polypeptide of the invention.

[000161] In a particular embodiment, the invention provides for the optimization of NADH-dependent reactions. In this case, the respective NADPH dependent hydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase, formate-hydrogen lyase, and/or methylene-THF-dehydrogenase could be replaced with corresponding NADH-dependent enzymes, e.g. from Moorella thermoacetica or A. woodii. This would optimize flux through pathways designed and optimized for NADH. This embodiment would have particular utility where no NADPH- dependent enzyme is available or a recombinant organism comprising an NADPH-dependent enzyme cannot be effectively engineered.

[000162] In order to increase the expression of a particular enzyme, the expression of the nucleic acid encoding that enzyme is increased. Methods to increase expression of a nucleic acid encoding the desirable enzyme are outlined below. Skilled persons may readily appreciate other techniques of use. [000163] The invention may comprise nucleic acids encoding proteins and peptides referred to herein or may use nucleic acids encoding proteins and peptides of use in the invention. In one embodiment, a nucleic acid is a nucleic acid construct or vector. In one particular embodiment, the nucleic acid construct or vector is an expression construct or vector, however other constructs and vectors, such as those used for cloning are encompassed by the invention. In one particular embodiment, the expression construct or vector is a plasmid.

[000164] It will be appreciated that an expression construct/vector of the present invention may contain any number of regulatory elements in addition to the promoter as well as additional genes suitable for expression of further proteins if desired. In one embodiment the expression construct/vector includes one promoter. In another embodiment, the expression construct/vector includes two or more promoters. In one particular embodiment, the expression construct/vector includes one promoter for each gene to be expressed. In one embodiment, the expression construct/vector includes one or more ribosomal binding sites, preferably a ribosomal binding site for each gene to be expressed.

[000165] It will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that the nucleic acid sequences and construct/vector sequences described herein may contain standard linker nucleotides such as those required for ribosome binding sites and/or restriction sites. Such linker sequences should not be interpreted as being required and do not provide a limitation on the sequences defined.

[000166] Nucleic acids and nucleic acid constructs, including expression constructs/vectors of the invention may be constructed using any number of techniques standard in the art. For example, chemical synthesis or recombinant techniques may be used. Such techniques are described, for example, in Sambrook et al (Molecular Cloning: A laboratory manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 1989). Further exemplary techniques are described in the Examples section herein after. Essentially, the individual genes and regulatory elements will be operably linked to one another such that the genes can be expressed to form the desired proteins. Suitable vectors for use in the invention will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art. However, by way of example, the following vectors may be suitable: pMTL80000 vectors, pIMPl, pJIR750, and the plasmids exemplified in the Examples section herein after. [000167] It should be appreciated that nucleic acids of the invention may be in any appropriate form, including RNA, DNA, or cDNA.

[000168] The invention also provides host organisms, particularly microorganisms, and including viruses, bacteria, and yeast, comprising any one or more of the nucleic acids described herein.

Method of producing recombinant microorganisms

[000169] The one or more exogenous nucleic acids may be delivered to a parental microorganism as naked nucleic acids or may be formulated with one or more agents to facilitate the tranformation process (for example, liposome-conjugated nucleic acid, an organism in which the nucleic acid is contained). The one or more nucleic acids may be DNA, RNA, or combinations thereof, as is appropriate. Restriction inhibitors may be used in certain embodiments; see, for example Murray, N.E. et al. (2000) Microbial. Molec. Biol. Rev. 64, 412.)

[000170] The microorganisms of the invention may be prepared from a parental microorganism and one or more exogenous nucleic acids using any number of techniques known in the art for producing recombinant microorganisms. By way of example only, transformation (including transduction or transfection) may be achieved by electroporation, ultrasonication, polyethylene glycol-mediated transformation, chemical or natural competence, protoplast transformation, prophage induction or conjugation. Suitable transformation techniques are described for example in, Sambrook J, Fritsch EF, Maniatis T: Molecular Cloning: A laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbour Labrotary Press, Cold Spring Harbour, 1989.

[000171] Electroporation has been described for several carboxydotrophic acetogens as C. ljungdahlii (Kopke et al. 2010, Poc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107: 13087-92; (Leang et al, 2011) PCT/NZ2011/000203; WO2012/053905), C. autoethanogenum (PCT/NZ201 1/000203; WO2012/053905), Acetobacterium woodii (Straetz et al, 1994, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60: 1033-37) or Moorella thermoacetica (Kita et al, 2012) and is a standard method used in many Clostridia such as C. acetobutylicum (Mermelstein et al, 1992, Biotechnology, 10, 190- 195), C. cellulolyticum (Jennert et al, 2000, Microbiology, 146: 3071-3080) or C. thermocellum (Tyurin et al, 2004, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70: 883-890). Prophage induction has been demonstrated for carboxydotrophic acetogen as well in case of C. scatologenes (Prasanna Tamarapu Parthasarathy, 2010, Development of a Genetic Modification System in Clostridium scatologenes ATCC 25775 for Generation of Mutants, Masters Project Western Kentucky University), while conjugation has been described as method of choice for many Clostridia including Clostridium difficile (Herbert et al, 2003, FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 229: 103-110) or C. acetobuylicum (Williams et al, 1990, J. Gen. Microbiol. 136: 819-826) and could be used in a similar fashion for carboxydotrophic acetogens.

[000172] In certain embodiments, due to the restriction systems which are active in the microorganism to be transformed, it is necessary to methylate the nucleic acid to be introduced into the microorganism. This can be done using a variety of techniques, including those described below, and further exemplified in the Examples section herein after.

[000173] By way of example, in one embodiment, a recombinant microorganism of the invention is produced by a method comprises the following steps: a. introduction into a shuttle microorganism of (i) of an expression construct/vector as described herein and (ii) a methylation construct/vector comprising a methyltransferase gene; b. expression of the methyltransferase gene; c. isolation of one or more constructs/vectors from the shuttle microorganism; and, d. introduction of the one or more construct/vector into a destination microorganism.

[000174] In one embodiment, the methyltransferase gene of step B is expressed constitutively. In another embodiment, expression of the methyltransferase gene of step B is induced.

[000175] The shuttle microorganism is a microorganism, preferably a restriction negative microorganism, that facilitates the methylation of the nucleic acid sequences that make up the expression construct/vector. In a particular embodiment, the shuttle microorganism is a restriction negative E. coli, Bacillus subtillis, or Lactococcus lactis. [000176] The methylation construct/vector comprises a nucleic acid sequence encoding a methyltransferase.

[000177] Once the expression construct/vector and the methylation construct/vector are introduced into the shuttle microorganism, the methyltransferase gene present on the methylation construct/vector is induced. Induction may be by any suitable promoter system although in one particular embodiment of the invention, the methylation construct/vector comprises an inducible lac promoter and is induced by addition of lactose or an analogue thereof, more preferably isopropyl-P-D-thio-galactoside (IPTG). Other suitable promoters include the ara, tet, or T7 system. In a further embodiment of the invention, the methylation construct/vector promoter is a constitutive promoter.

[000178] In a particular embodiment, the methylation construct/vector has an origin of replication specific to the identity of the shuttle microorganism so that any genes present on the methylation construct/vector are expressed in the shuttle microorganism. Preferably, the expression construct/vector has an origin of replication specific to the identity of the destination microorganism so that any genes present on the expression construct/vector are expressed in the destination microorganism.

[000179] Expression of the methyltransferase enzyme results in methylation of the genes present on the expression construct/vector. The expression construct/vector may then be isolated from the shuttle microorganism according to any one of a number of known methods. By way of example only, the methodology described in the Examples section described hereinafter may be used to isolate the expression construct/vector.

[000180] In one particular embodiment, both construct/vector are concurrently isolated.

[000181] The expression construct/vector may be introduced into the destination microorganism using any number of known methods. However, by way of example, the methodology described in the Examples section hereinafter may be used. Since the expression construct/vector is methylated, the nucleic acid sequences present on the expression construct/vector are able to be incorporated into the destination microorganism and successfully expressed.

[000182] It is envisaged that a methyltransferase gene may be introduced into a shuttle microorganism and over-expressed. Thus, in one embodiment, the resulting methyltransferase enzyme may be collected using known methods and used in vitro to methylate an expression plasmid. The expression construct/vector may then be introduced into the destination microorganism for expression. In another embodiment, the methyltransferase gene is introduced into the genome of the shuttle microorganism followed by introduction of the expression construct/vector into the shuttle microorganism, isolation of one or more constructs/vectors from the shuttle microorganism and then introduction of the expression construct/vector into the destination microorganism.

[000183] It is envisaged that the expression construct/vector and the methylation construct/vector as defined above may be combined to provide a composition of matter. Such a composition has particular utility in circumventing restriction barrier mechanisms to produce the recombinant microorganisms of the invention.

[000184] In one particular embodiment, the expression construct/vector and/or the methylation construct/vector are plasmids.

[000185] Persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate a number of suitable methyltransferases of use in producing the microorganisms of the invention. However, by way of example the Bacillus subtilis phage ΦΤ1 methyltransferase and the methyltransferase described in the Examples herein after may be used. In one embodiment, the methyltransferase has been described in WO/2012/053905.

[000186] Any number of constructs/vectors adapted to allow expression of a methyltransferase gene may be used to generate the methylation construct/vector. However, by way of example, the plasmid described in the Examples section hereinafter may be used.

Methods of production

[000187] In an embodiment of the invention, the gaseous substrate fermented by the microorganism is a gaseous substrate containing CO. The gaseous substrate may be a CO- containing waste gas obtained as a by-product of an industrial process, or from some other source such as from automobile exhaust fumes. In certain embodiments, the industrial process is selected from the group consisting of ferrous metal products manufacturing, such as a steel mill, non-ferrous products manufacturing, petroleum refining processes, gasification of coal, electric power production, carbon black production, ammonia production, methanol production and coke manufacturing. In these embodiments, the CO- containing gas may be captured from the industrial process before it is emitted into the atmosphere, using any convenient method. The CO may be a component of syngas (gas comprising carbon monoxide and hydrogen). The CO produced from industrial processes is normally flared off to produce C0 2 and therefore the invention has particular utility in reducing C0 2 greenhouse gas emissions and producing a biofuel. Depending on the composition of the gaseous CO -containing substrate, it may also be desirable to treat it to remove any undesired impurities, such as dust particles before introducing it to the fermentation. For example, the gaseous substrate may be filtered or scrubbed using known methods.

[000188] It will be appreciated that for growth of the bacteria and the production of products to occur, in addition to the CO-containing substrate gas, a suitable liquid nutrient medium will need to be fed to the bioreactor.

[000189] In particular embodiments of the method aspects, the fermentation occurs in an aqueous culture medium. In particular embodiments of the method aspects, the fermentation of the substrate takes place in a bioreactor.

[000190] The substrate and media may be fed to the bioreactor in a continuous, batch or batch fed fashion. A nutrient medium will contain vitamins and minerals sufficient to permit growth of the micro-organism used. Anaerobic media suitable for fermentation using CO are known in the art. For example, suitable media are described Biebel (2001). In oneembodiment of the invention the media is as described in the Examples section herein after.

[000191] The fermentation should desirably be carried out under appropriate fermentation conditions for the production of the biofuel to occur. Reaction conditions that should be considered include pressure, temperature, gas flow rate, liquid flow rate, media pH, media redox potential, agitation rate (if using a continuous stirred tank reactor), inoculum level, maximum gas substrate concentrations to ensure that CO in the liquid phase does not become limiting, and maximum product concentrations to avoid product inhibition.

[000192] In addition, it is often desirable to increase the CO concentration of a substrate stream (or CO partial pressure in a gaseous substrate) and thus increase the efficiency of fermentation reactions where CO is a substrate. Operating at increased pressures allows a significant increase in the rate of CO transfer from the gas phase to the liquid phase where it can be taken up by the micro-organism as a carbon source for the production of fermentation. This in turn means that the retention time (defined as the liquid volume in the bioreactor divided by the input gas flow rate) can be reduced when bioreactors are maintained at elevated pressure rather than atmospheric pressure. The optimum reaction conditions will depend partly on the particular micro-organism of the invention used. However, in general, it is preferred that the fermentation be performed at pressure higher than ambient pressure. Also, since a given CO conversion rate is in part a function of the substrate retention time, and achieving a desired retention time in turn dictates the required volume of a bioreactor, the use of pressurized systems can greatly reduce the volume of the bioreactor required, and consequently the capital cost of the fermentation equipment. According to examples given in US patent no. 5,593,886, reactor volume can be reduced in linear proportion to increases in reactor operating pressure, i.e. bioreactors operated at 10 atmospheres of pressure need only be one tenth the volume of those operated at 1 atmosphere of pressure.

[000193] By way of example, the benefits of conducting a gas-to-ethanol fermentation at elevated pressures has been described. For example, WO 02/08438 describes gas-to- ethanol fermentations performed under pressures of 30 psig and 75 psig, giving ethanol productivities of 150 g/l/day and 369 g/l/day respectively. However, example fermentations performed using similar media and input gas compositions at atmospheric pressure were found to produce between 10 and 20 times less ethanol per litre per day.

[000194] It is also desirable that the rate of introduction of the CO-containing gaseous substrate is such as to ensure that the concentration of CO in the liquid phase does not become limiting. This is because a consequence of CO-limited conditions may be that one or more product is consumed by the culture.

[000195] The composition of gas streams used to feed a fermentation reaction can have a significant impact on the efficiency and/or costs of that reaction. For example, 02 may reduce the efficiency of an anaerobic fermentation process. Processing of unwanted or unnecessary gases in stages of a fermentation process before or after fermentation can increase the burden on such stages (e.g. where the gas stream is compressed before entering a bioreactor, unnecessary energy may be used to compress gases that are not needed in the fermentation). Accordingly, it may be desirable to treat substrate streams, particularly substrate streams derived from industrial sources, to remove unwanted components and increase the concentration of desirable components. [000196] In certain embodiments a culture of a bacterium of the invention is maintained in an aqueous culture medium. Preferably the aqueous culture medium is a minimal anaerobic microbial growth medium. Suitable media are known in the art and described for example in US patent no.s 5,173,429 and 5,593,886 and WO 02/08438, and as described in the Examples section herein after.

[000197] Also, if the pH of the broth was adjusted as described above to enhance adsorption of acetic acid to the activated charcoal, the pH should be re-adjusted to a similar pH to that of the broth in the fermentation bioreactor, before being returned to the bioreactor.

Examples

Example 1

[000198] All five oxidoreductase enzyme steps of the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway were assayed to determine their activity in the presence of different substrates. These enzymes can use co-factors to drive the reaction. The enzymes are involved in autotrophic growth including uptake and utilization of CO, C0 2 , and H 2 gases.

[000199] The enzymes assayed and their activities are detailed in figure 1. All assays performed were tested using a synthetic redox dye as control, either methyl viologen (MV) or benzyl viologen (BV). Co-factors ferredoxin (Fd), NADH and NADPH or a combination thereof was tested. Enzyme assays were performed using crude extracts from a typical reactor run growing autotrophically on CO and hydrogen.

Fermentation

[000200] Fermentations with C. autoethanogenum DSM23693 were carried out in 1.5L bioreactors at 37°C and CO-containing steel mill gas as sole energy and carbon source as described below. A defined medium containing per litre: MgCl, CaCl 2 (0.5mM), KC1 (2mM), H 3 PO 4 (5mM), Fe (ΙΟΟμΜ), Ni, Zn (5μΜ), Mn, B, W, Mo, Se(2 μΜ) was used for culture growth. The media was transferred into the bioreactor and autoclaved at 121°C for 45 minutes. After autoclaving, the medium was supplemented with Thiamine, Pantothenate (0.05mg), Biotin (0.02mg) and reduced with 3mM Cysteine -HC1. To achieve anaerobicity the reactor vessel was sparged with nitrogen through a 0.2 μιη filter. Prior to inoculation, the gas was switched to CO-containing steel mill gas, feeding continuously to the reactor. The feed gas composition was 2% H 2 42% CO 20% C0 2 36% N 2 . The pH of the culture was maintained between 5 and 5.2.

Harvesting of cells

[000201] At the time of harvesting the cells, the gas consumption was 5 moles CO L "1 day "1 and 10 milimoles H 2 L "1 day "1 , with the following metabolites produced: 14 g L "1 day "1 Acetate and 19.5 g L "1 day "1 Ethanol. The pH of the culture was adjusted to pH 6 with K 2 C0 3 and the reactor chilled in ice-water bath. -1.2 L of culture was collected collected on ice. The culture was divided between 2x 1-L centrifuge bottles (this and all subsequent steps were carried out in an anaerobic chamber to ensure anoxic conditions to avoid inactivation of the enzymes) and cells pelleted at 5000 rpm for 10 min. The supernatant was decanted, and residual liquid removed. Each pellet resuspended in -30 mL of 50 mM K P0 4 pH 7.0 with 10 mM DTT. Resuspensions transferred to pre weighed 50-mL-Falcon-tubes and cells repelleted at max speed (5000g) for 15 min. Tubes removed from anaerobic chamber and immediately frozen on liquid N 2 before assaying.

Preparation of crude cell extracts and enzyme assays

[000202] Cells were harvested from a continuous reactor under anoxic conditions. They were disrupted by three passes through a French press as described by (Huang et al, 2012).

[000203] Except where indicated, all assays were performed at 37°C in 1.5-ml- anaerobic cuvettes closed with a rubber stopper filled with 0.8 ml reaction mixture and 0.7 ml N 2 or H 2 or CO at 1.2 x 10 5 Pa as described by (Huang et al, 2012).

[000204] CO dehydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase, Methylene-THF dehydrogenase, and Methylene-THF reductase were all assayed as described by (Huang et al, 2012).

[000205] CO dehydrogenase was measured using an assay mixture that contained 100 mM Tris/HCl (pH 7.5), 2 mM DTT and about 30 μΜ ferredoxin and/or 1 mM NAD + or 1 mM NADP + . The gas phase was 100% CO.

[000206] Hydrogenase activity was measured as described, with the addition of measuring the NADP + dependent ferredoxin reduction with H 2 . The reaction mixture was supplemented with ferredoxin (30 μΜ) and 1 mM NADP. The gas phase was 100% H 2 . After the start of the reaction with enzyme ferredoxin reduction was followed at 430 nm (εΔοχ-red ~ 13.1 mM "1 cm "1 ).

[000207] Formate -Hydrogen lyase activity was measured in a 5 -ml anaerobic serum bottle closed with a rubber stopper filled with 0.8 ml reaction mixture and 4.2 ml N2 at 1.2 x 10 5 Pa. The reaction mixture contained 100 mM Tris-HCl pH 7.5 and 20 mM formate. After initiating the reaction by addition of enzyme, H 2 production was monitored by gas chromatography. Formate-Hydrogen lyase activity for reduction of C0 2 with H 2 to formate was measured with an assay mixture containing 100 mM potassium phosphate, 2 mM DTT, and 30 mM [ 14 C]K 2 C0 3 (24,000 dpm/μιηοΐ). The gas phase was 100% H 2 . The serum bottles were continuously shaken at 200 rpm to ensure equilibration of the gas phase with the liquid phase. After start of the reaction with enzyme, 100 μΐ liquid samples were withdrawn every 1.5 min and added into a 1.5-ml safe seal micro tube containing 100 μΐ of 150 mM acetic acid to stop the reaction by acidification. The 200 μΐ mixture was then incubated at 40°C for 10 min with shaking at 1,400 rpm in a Thermomixer to remove all 14 C0 2 leaving behind the 14 C- formate formed. Subsequently, 100 μΐ of the mixture was added to 5 ml of Quicksave A scintillation fluid (Zinsser Analytic, Frankfurt, Germany) and analyzed for 14 C radioactivity in a Beckman LS6500 liquid scintillation counter (Fullerton, CA).

[000208] Formate dehydrogenase measurement was carried out with assay mixtures containing 100 mM Tris/HCl (pH 7.5) or 100 mM potassium phosphate, 2 mM DTT, 20 mM formate and, where indicated 25 μΜ ferredoxin, 1 mM NADP + , 1 mM NAD + and/or 10 mM methyl viologen. The gas phase was 100% N 2 .

[000209] Methylene-H 4 F dehydrogenase was measured using an assay mixture containing 100 mM MOPS/KOH (pH 6.5), 50 mM 2-mercaptoethanol, 0.4 mM tetrahydrofolate, 10 mM formaldehyde and 0.5 mM NADP + or 0.5 mM NAD + . The gas phase was 100% N 2 .

[000210] Methylene-H4F reductase was assayed under the following conditions. The assay mixtures contained 100 mM Tris/HCl (pH 7.5), 20 mM ascorbate, 10 μΜ FAD. 20 mM benzyl viologen and 1 mM methyl-H4F. Before start of the reaction with enzyme, benzyl viologen was reduced to an ΔΑ555 of 0.3 with sodium dithionite. [000211] Aldehyde :ferredoxin oxidoreductase was assayed using a mixture containing 100 mM Tris/HCl (pH 7.5), 2 mM DTT, 1.1 mM acetaldehyde, and about 25 μΜ ferredoxin. The gas phase was 100% N2.

[000212] CoA acetylating acetaldehyde dehydrogenase was measured using a mixture contained 100 mM Tris/HCl (pH 7.5), 2 mM DTT, 1.1 mM acetaldehyde, 1 mM coenzyme A, and 1 mM NADP+ or 1 mM NAD+. The gas phase was 100% N2.

[000213] Alcohol and butanediol dehydrogenases were measured in an assay with 100 mM potassium phosphate (pH 6), 2 mM DTT, 1.1 mM acetaldehyde or acetoin respectively and 1 mM NADPH or 1 mM NADH. The gas phase was 100% N2.

[000214] Ferredoxin was purified from C. pasteurianum as described by (Schonheit, Wascher, & Thauer, 1978).

Results

[000215] Hydrogenase: This enzyme is important for hydrogen uptake as an energy source and is essential for growth of carboxydotrophic microorganisms on C0 2 . This enzyme is also able to evolve hydrogen and may act in conjunction with a formate dehydrogenase as formate hydrogen lyase.

[000216] In genome of C. autoethanogenum 7 hydrogenase genes (6 Fe-only hydrogenases and one NiFe hydrogenase; Seq. ID 5-20) are present. Homologues for 5 of these genes are present in genome of C. ljungdahlii (Kopke et al, 2010) (YP 003781016/CLJU_c26060; YP 003781017/CL JU_c26070;

CLJU_c07070/YP_003778879; CLJU_cl4700/YP_003779640; CLJU_cl7280/YP_003779893; CLJU_c20290/YP_003780193) and could also be identified in genome of C. ragsdalei (Seq. ID 21-32) (Table 3).

Table 3

CLJU_c26060-70

[FeFe] Seq. ID 9-10 CLJU_c07070; Seq. ID 25-26 hydrogenase

YP_003778879

[FeFe] Seq. ID 11-12 CLJU c 14700; Seq. ID 27-28 hydrogenase

YP 003779640

[FeFe] Seq. ID 13-14 - - hydrogenase

[FeFe] Seq. ID 15-16 CLJU_c20290; Seq. ID 29-30 hydrogenase

YP 003780193

[FeFe] Seq. ID 17-18 CLJU_c 17280; Seq. ID 31-32 hydrogenase

YP 003779893

[FeFe] Seq. ID 19-20 - - hydrogenase

[000217] Using single co-factors, activity was observed with NADPH (0.2 U/mg), while zero or a much lower activity was observed with NADH (0.05 U/mg) or ferredoxin (<0.01 U/mg). This demonstrates that the hydrogenase is NADPH specific.

[000218] Highest activity was found using a combination of co-factors. With NADPH in the presence of Ferredoxin 0.68 U/mg were measured. In contrast, no measurable activity was observed with NADH (<0.01 U/mg), again confirming the high specificity of this enzyme for NADPH. This data indicates that a bifurcating hydrogenase is present as in Thermotoga maritima (Schut & Adams, 2009) or Acetobaterium woodii (Schuchmann & Mueller, 2012) or Moorella thermoacetica (Huang et al, 2012). However, in these other organisms, the enzyme is NADH dependent. As such, this is the first NADPH dependent bifurcating hydrogenase discovered.

[000219] Formate dehydrogenase: This enzyme catalyzes the reduction of C02 to formate in the methyl branch of the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway and is essential for autotrophic growth on CO or C0 2 and H 2 by acetogens.

[000220] Three genes encode for seleno and non-seleno formate dehydrogenases and are present in the genomes of C. autoethanogenum (AEI90721, AEI90723, AEI90725; HQ876015, HQ876017, HQ876019), C. ljungdahlii (YP 003779063, YP 003778871, YP 003780168; CLJU_c08930, CLJU_c06990, CLJU_c20040) and C. ragsdalei (AEI90722, AEI90724, AEI90726; HQ876016, HQ876018, HQ876020) (Kopke et al, 2010, 2011).

[000221] Using only one co-factor, a specificity for NADPH rather than NAD was detected: 0.2 U/mg over very little 0.03 U/mg

[000222] Significantly higher activity however was detected using a combination of two co-factors: with NADPH and ferredoxin 1.10 U/mg was detected, but only 0.07 with NADH instead of NADPH. This indicated the presence of a bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that has never been described before.

[000223] Formate-hydrogen lyase: Using H 2 a high activity of 2.4 U/mg was detected, indicating that the bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase may form a formate-hydrogen complex with the NADPH bifurcating hydrogenase.

[000224] The protein encoding genes for the bifurcating NADP formate dehydrogenase (AEI90721, HQ876015; YP 003778871, CLJU_c08930; AEI90722, HQ876016) and the bifurcating NADP Fe-only hydrogenase (Seq. ID 9-10; CLJU_c07070, YP 003778879 ; SeqID 25-26) were found in one gene cluster, along with genes for an iron-sulfur fiavoprotein with a NADP binding site, iron-sulfur (FeS) proteins and a selenocysteine- and molybdopterin-containing formate dehydrogenase (Fig. 3). Functional complex formation is reflected by the finding that the genes for the two enzymes lie side by side in the genome and could form a transcription unit.

[000225] A formate -hydrogen lyase acting in this direction from C0 2 and H 2 to formate hasn't been described before and is novel to carboxydotrophic Clostridia (Fig. 1). Reversibility of this reaction has also been demonstrated, releasing hydrogen and C0 2 from formate. The use of this enzyme allows capture of C0 2 in the form of formate using hydrogen, which can then be released again. With a purified enzyme, a formate hydrogen lyase activity of 41 U/mg for formation of formate from C0 2 +H 2 and 40 U/mg for hydrogen formation from formate has been measured (Table 4).

Table 4: Reactions catalyzed by the C. autoethanogenum formate hydrogen lyase

NADH + MV <0.1

[000226] With regard to Table 4, purification of the formate hydrogen lyase complex of C. autoethanogenum was performed under strictly anoxic conditions at room temperature. An anoxic 50 mM Tris-HCl (pH 7.6) containing 2 mM DTT, 5 μΜ FAD, and 5 μΜ FMN (Buffer A) was used through the whole process. The 150,000 x g supernatant containing the cytoplasmic fraction with approximately 47 mg protein ml -1 was fractionated with ammonium sulfate. The fraction between 40 and 55% ammonium sulfate saturation was collected by centrifugation at 30,000 x g and 4°C for 30 min. The precipitate was dissolved in 7 ml Buffer A containing 0.8 M ammonium sulfate. After removing un-dissolved proteins by centrifugation, the supernatant was loaded onto a Phenyl Sepharose high-performance column (2.6 cm by 12 cm) equilibrated with Buffer A containing 0.8 M ammonium sulfate. Protein was eluted with a stepwise ammonium sulfate gradient (0.80, 0.64, 0.48, 0.32, 0.16, and 0 M; 100 ml each in Buffer A) at a flow rate of 5 ml min -1 . The hydrogenase activity was eluted in a peak at 0.48 M ammonium sulfate. The pooled fractions were concentrated and desalted with an Amicon cell with a 50-kDa-cutoff membrane. The concentrate was then applied onto a Q Sepharose high-performance column (1.6 cm by 13 cm) equilibrated with Buffer A. The column was then washed with 90 ml Buffer A. Protein was eluted with a 0 to 1 M NaCl linear gradient at a flow rate of 5 ml min -1 . The hydrogenase activity was recovered in a single peak eluting around 0.4 M NaCl. The fraction was concentrated, desalted with a 50-kDa-cutoff Amicon filter, and then stored at -20°C in Buffer A under an atmosphere of 95% N 2 /5% H 2 until used.

[000227] The activities were measured at 37°C in 100 mM potassium phosphate at the indicated pH. When the formation of H 2 from formate (formate hydrogen lyase activity) was followed, the assay mixtures contained 100 mM Tris-HCl (pH 7.5) (Table 1) or 100 mM potassium phosphate (pH as indicated) (Table 3), 2 mM DTT and 20 mM sodium formate. The gas phase was 100% N 2 . The serum bottles were continuously shaken at 200 rpm to ensure H 2 transfer from the liquid phase into the gas phase. Gas samples (0.2 ml) were withdrawn every 1 min, and H 2 was quantified by gas-chromatography. When the reduction of C0 2 with H 2 to formate was measured, the assay mixtures contained 100 mM potassium phosphate (final pH as indicated), 2 mM DTT, and 30 mM [ 14 C]K 2 C0 3 (24,000 dpm/μιηοΐ). The gas phase was 100% H 2 . The serum bottles were continuously shaken at 200 rpm to ensure equilibration of the gas phase with the liquid phase. After start of the reaction with enzyme, 100 μΐ liquid samples were withdrawn every 1.5 min and added to 1.5 -ml safe-seal micro-tube containing 100 μΐ of 150 mM acetic acid to stop the reaction by acidification. The 200 μΐ mixture was then incubated at 40°C for 10 min with shaking at 1,400 rpm in a Thermomixer (type 5436, Eppendorf, Germany) to remove all 14 C0 2 leaving behind the 14 C- formate formed. Subsequently, 100 μΐ of the mixture was added to 5 ml of Quicksave A scintillation fluid (Zinsser Analytic, Frankfurt, Germany) and analyzed for 14 C radioactivity in a Beckman LS6500 liquid scintillation counter (Fullerton, CA, USA). When the reduction of C0 2 with reduced ferredoxin and NADPH to formate was followed, the assay mixtures contained 100 mM potassium phosphate (final as indicated), 2 mM DTT, 30 mM [ 14 C]K 2 C03 (24,000 dpm/μιηοΐ), 1 mM NADPH, and reduced ferredoxin-regenerating system (10 mM pyruvate, 0.1 mM thiamine pyrophosphate, 1 mM coenzyme A, 25 μΜ C. pasteurianum ferredoxin, 1 U pyruvate: ferredoxin oxidoreductase ,and 5 U phosphotransacetylase). The gas phase was 100% N 2 . The serum bottles were continuously shaken at 200 rpm to ensure equilibration of the gas phase with the liquid phase. After start of the reaction with enzyme, 100 μΐ liquid aliquots were withdrawn every 1.5 min and analyzed for formate. When the reduction of C0 2 with reduced ferredoxin and NADPH to formate was followed, the assay mixtures contained 100 mM potassium phosphate (final as indicated), 2 mM DTT, 30 mM [ 14 C]K 2 C03 (24,000 dpm/μιηοΐ), 1 mM NADPH, and reduced ferredoxin-regenerating system (10 mM pyruvate, 0.1 mM thiamine pyrophosphate, 1 mM coenzyme A, 25 μΜ C. pasteurianum ferredoxin, 1 U pyruvate: ferredoxin oxidoreductase ,and 5 U phosphotransacetylase). The gas phase was 100%) N 2 . The serum bottles were continuously shaken at 200 rpm to ensure equilibration of the gas phase with the liquid phase. After start of the reaction with enzyme, 100 μΐ liquid aliquots were withdrawn every 1.5 min and analyzed for formate as described above. Purified ferredoxin (Fd) from C. pasteurianum DSM 525 was used prepared according to Schonheit et al (Rapid procedure for purification of ferredoxin from Clostridia using polyethyleneimine. FEBS Lett. 1978, 89:219-222). One unit (U) equals 2 μιηοΐ electrons transferred per min.

[000228] Methylene-THF-dehydrogenase: This enzyme catalyzes the reaction from 5, 10-methylenetetrahydro folate to 5, 10-methenyltetrahydro folate and is essential to autotrophic growth. It is part of the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway and was found to be clearly NADPH specific (1.12 U/mg with NADPH, but no detectable activity with NADH or ferredoxin). [000229] This enzyme and respective gene has been identified in C. autoethanogenum (AEI90753; HQ876031, GL338225353), C. ljungdahlii (YP 003781891; CLJU_c37630) and C. ragsdalei (AEI90771; HQ876032, GL338225372) as bifunctional methylene- tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/formyl-tetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase.

[000230] This enzyme was previously shown in Moorella thermoacetica to be NADPH- dependent, while the other reactions are NADH or ferredoxin dependent in this organism (Huang et al, 2012).

[000231] No measurable activity could be detected in the in vitro assays for the Methylene-THF reducatase with either co-factor (only with a synthetic dye). However, the inventors consider that this result can be explained by the enzyme requiring an unknown coupling site as an additional enzyme as has been proposed for other enzymes such as C. ljungdahlii or A. woodii (Kopke et al, 2010; Poehlein et al, 2012). This coupling mechanism may be NADPH dependent. The CO dehydrogenase reaction was found to be ferredoxin dependent as has been previously reported for this class of enzymes.

[000232] From all five tested oxidoreductase reactions of the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway in carboxydotrophic Clostridia Clostridium autoethanogenum, surprisingly none was found to be NADH dependent, rather the majority was found to be NADPH dependent. This is in complete contrast to for example glycolysis of sugar utilizing bacteria as E. coli (figure 2). Thus existing strategies for E. coli, using NADH dependent reactions and bypassing NADPH dependent reactions (which result in a reduction in product yields and require extensive modifications) are not productive in carboxydotrophic Clostridia. The invention as described herein provides a strategy to overcome this by preferentially selecting for NADPH dependent reactions in carboxydotrophic Clostridia to achieve maximum product yields for metabolic engineering. The capacity and potential of NADPH dependent reactions is shown in example 3 as well as the difference to sugar utilizing E. coli. Similarly this strategy can be applied for heterologous pathways to achieve maximum product yield and flux.

Example 2

[000233] The relative expression of over 200 genes C. autoethanogenum genes was analysed using real-time quantitative PCR to determine the genes with highest expression. Fermentation

[000234] Fermentations with C. autoethanogenum DSM23693 were carried out in 1.5L bioreactors at 37°C and CO-containing steel mill gas as sole energy and carbon source as described below. A defined medium containing per litre: MgCl, CaCl 2 (0.5mM), KC1 (2mM), H 3 PO 4 (5mM), Fe (ΙΟΟμΜ), Ni, Zn (5μΜ), Mn, B, W, Mo, Se(2 μΜ) was used for culture growth. The media was transferred into the bioreactor and autoclaved at 121°C for 45 minutes. After autoclaving, the medium was supplemented with Thiamine, Pantothenate (0.05mg), Biotin (0.02mg) and reduced with 3mM Cysteine -HC1. To achieve anaerobicity the reactor vessel was sparged with nitrogen through a 0.2 μιη filter. Prior to inoculation, the gas was switched to CO-containing steel mill gas, feeding continuously to the reactor. The gas flow was initially set at 80 ml/min, increasing to 200 ml/min during mid-exponential phase, while the agitation was increased from 200 rpm to 350. Na 2 S was dosed into the bioreactor at 0.25 ml/hr. Once the OD600 reached 0.5, the bioreactor was switched to a continuous mode at a rate of 1.0 ml/min (Dilution rate 0.96 d "1 ). Media samples were taken to measure the biomass and metabolites and a headspace analysis of the in- and outflowing gas was performed on regular basis. qRT-PCR

[000235] A qRT-PCR study with over 200 genes was performed using appropriate primers. Samples were taken from a typical 1.5L fed-batch fermentation run as described above over the whole growth period (4 days). The samples were harvested by centrifugation (6,000 x g, 5 min, 4 °C) and the cell pellet snap frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at -80 °C until use. RNA was isolated by thawing the cell pellet on ice and suspending it in 100 μΙ_, of lysozyme solution (50,000 U lysozyme, 0.5 μΐ, 10% SDS, 10 mM Tris-HCl, 0.1 mM EDTA; pH 8). After 5 min, 350 of lysis buffer (containing 10 of 2-mercaptoethanol) was added. The cell suspension was mechanistically disrupted by passing five times through an 18-21 gauge needle. RNA was then isolated using PureLink™ RNA Mini Kit (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA) and eluted in 100 μΐ, of RNase-free water. The RNA was checked via PCR and gel electrophoresis and quantified spectrophotometrically, and treated with DNase I (Roche) if necessary. The reverse transcription step was carried out using Superscript III Reverse Transcriptase Kit (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA). RT-PCR reactions were performed in MyiQ Single Colour Real-Time PCR Detection System (Bio- Rad Labratories, Hercules, CA 94547, USA) in a reaction volume of 15 μΙ_, with 25 ng of cDNA template, 67 nM of each primer , and lx iQ SYBR Green Supermix (Bio-Rad Labratories, Hercules, CA 94547, USA). Guanylate kinase (GnK) and formate tetrahydrofolate ligase (FoT4L) were used as housekeeping gene and non-template controls were included. The reaction conditions were 95 °C for 3 min, followed by 40 cycles of 95°C for 15s, 55°C for 15s and 72°C for 30s. A melting-curve analysis was performed immediately after completion of the qRT PCR (38 cycles of 58 °C to 95 °C at 1 °C/s), for detection of primer dimerisation or other artefacts of amplification. Data on the expression level was computed in the form of threshold cycle (C t ) values based on PCR base line subtracted curve fit method as calculated by the Biorad iQ5 2.0 software. The raw Ct values were further analysed using Relative Expression Software Tool (REST©) 2008 V2.0.7.

Results

[000236] When growing autotrophically, carboxydotrophic microorganisms uptake gases which serve as a carbon and energy source. Figure 4 shows the relative expression of genes expressed in C. autoethanogenum. The three enzymes identified were involved in autotrophic growth and gas uptake and the inventors found them to be among the most highly expressed genes in the microorganism. As shown in example 1, these same enzymes were found to exhibit high or exclusive utilization of NADPH compared to NADH. The expression of NADH-dependent enzymes was at a much lower level. Given that the enzymes that these genes encode have been found to be NADPH dependent, this indicates that the NADPH pool is extremely important (in contrast to sugar utilizing organisms as E. coli) and NADPH dependent reactions are not a bottleneck. For engineering pathways in a carboxydotrophic Clostridia cell, this is a big advantage as it is possible to select NADPH dependent reactions, and these reactions don't have to be avoided or bypassed. Additionally, the NADPH pool is larger so performance don't drop and extensive engineering is not necessary.

Example 3

[000237] Primary-secondary alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) is a strictly NADPH- dependent enzyme that converts acetone to isopropanol. Its activity is demonstrated using enzyme assays with crude extract prepared from fermentation broth containing acetone as well as 0.2mM of either NADH or NADPH (Ismaiel, Zhu, Colby, & Chen, 1993) [000238] A reactor study with C. autoethanogenum was performed to demonstrate effective NADPH dependent conversion of acetone to isopropanol at high rates. In continuous mode with stable biomass and metabolite production, acetone was added to both the bioreactor and the feed medium. Acetone was spiked into the reactor to a certain level, which was then obtained by continuous feeding. Initially, 1 g/L acetone was added, once the metabolite concentrations had stabilised, the concentration was increased to 5 g/L, 15 g/1, and in a second experiment to 20 g/L.

Materials and methods

Analysis of metabolites

[000239] HPLC analysis of acetone, isopropanol and other metabolites was performed using an Agilent 1100 Series HPLC system equipped with a RID operated at 35 °C (Refractive Index Detector) and an Alltech IOA-2000 Organic acid column (150 x 6.5 mm, particle size 5 μιη) kept at 60 °C. Slightly acidified water was used (0.005M H 2 SO 4 ) as mobile phase with a flow rate of 0.7 ml/min. To remove proteins and other cell residues, 400 μΐ samples were mixed with 100 μΐ of a 2 % (w/v) 5-Sulfosalicylic acid and centrifuged at 14,000 x g for 3 min to separate precipitated residues. 10 μΐ of the supernatant were then injected into the HPLC for analyses.

[000240] GC analysis of acetone, isopropanol and other metabolites was performed using an Agilent 6890N headspace GC equipped with a Supelco PDMS 100 1cm fiber, an Alltech EC-1000 (30m x 0.25mm x 0.25 μιη) column, and a flame ionization detector (FID). 5 ml samples were transferred into a Hungate tube, heated to 40 °C in a water bath and exposed to the fiber for exactly 5 min. The injector was kept at 250 °C and helium with a constant flow of 1 ml/min was used as carrier gas. The oven program was 40 °C for 5 min, followed by an increase of 10 °C/min up to 200 °C. The temperature was then further increased to 220 °C with a rate of 50 °C/min followed by a 5 min hold this temperature, before the temperature was decreased to 40 °C with a rate of 50 °C/min and a final 1 min hold. The FID was kept at 250°C with 40 ml/min hydrogen, 450 ml/min air and 15 ml/min nitrogen as make up gas. Headspace Analysis

[000241] Measurements were carried out on a Varian CP-4900 micro GC with two installed channels. Channel 1 was a 10m Mol-sieve column running at 70°C, 200kPa argon and a backflush time of 4.2s, while channel 2 was a 10m PPQ column running at 90°C, 150kPa helium and no backflush. The injector temperature for both channels was 70°C. Runtimes were set to 120s, but all peaks of interest would usually elute before 100s.

Harvesting cells

[000242] Cells from a 1.5L bioreactor, utilizing CO and H2 having an optical density (OD) of 4 and producing ethanol, acetate and 2,3-butanediol were slowly transferred via tubings into a 2 litre bottle closed with a rubber stopper and primarily filled with N 2 . Overpressure was released by way of a needle through the stopper. Bottles were kept at a temperature below 0°C and the transfer of the culture was carried out slowly so as to cool down the culture to 0°C as quickly as possible after transfer. When the transfer was finished, the bottle was placed in an anaerobic tent. The tubes were centrifuged, then the supernatant was decanted and the remaining liquid was removed with filter paper. The pellet was suspended in 50 mM anaerobic potassium phosphate pH 7 containing 10 mM dithiothreitol. The suspension of several bottles was combined, centrifuged, dried, weighed and stored on dry ice.

Enzyme assays

[000243] Enzyme assays were conducted according to the methods outlined in Huang (Huang et al., 2012) and Ismaiel (Ismaiel et al., 1993).

Results

[000244] Reduction of acetone to isopropanol was shown to be a function of a strictly NADPH dependent secondary alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, as shown in figure 5. Activity was only measured with NADPH but not NADH demonstrating that this enzyme is strictly NADPH dependent.

[000245] To demonstrate the capacity of NADPH pool during autotrophic growth on CO, acetone was continuously fed into a reactor growing on acetone. It was found that acetone was efficiently converted to isopropanol via this NADPH dependent secondary alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme at high rates. Figure 6 shows that acetone is converted into isopropanol shortly after introduction to the bioreactor. Even at high concentrations of 20 g/L the culture converted all acetone to isopropanol demonstrating that the NADPH pool is sufficient to sustain this even at high rate.

[000246] This experiment demonstrates the capacity that carboxydotrophic Clostridia microorganisms have for driving sustained NADPH-dependent reactions. In E. coli, the NADPH capacity is considerably lower, as shown in furfural studies (E N Miller et al, 2009; Elliot N Miller et al, 2009).

Example 4

[000247] Several pathways offering the option between NADH and NADPH dependent enzymes exist, for example, the butanol pathway. Most engineering efforts so far have focused on using NADH dependent reactions while avoiding NADPH dependent reactions. This limits the choice of pathways and neglects the additional driving force provided by NADPH.

[000248] A novel, completely NADPH dependent pathway for butanol biosynthesis is designed consisting of a thiolase (EC 2.3.1.9; btkB, e.g. from Ralstonia eutropha: YP_725948.1, GeneID:4248815; phaA, e.g. from Ralstonia eutropha: YP_725941.1, Gene ID: 4249783), an NADPH dependent R-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase (EC: 1.1.1.36; phaB GO:0018454; e.g. from Ralstonia eutropha: YP_725942.1, GeneID:4249784) and 3- hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase (EC 4.2.1.119; phaJ e.g. from Aeromonas punctata: BAA21816.1), an NADPH dependent crotonyl-CoA carboxylase/reductase (EC 1.3.1.86; ccr e.g. from Streptomyces collinus; EC 1.3.1.85; ccr ¾ e.g. from Rhodobacter sphaeroides: YP 354044.1, Gene ID: 3720751) and NADPH dependent ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase (EC 4.1.1.41; e.g. from Mus musculus: NP 001103665.1, GeneID:52665) to butyryl-CoA, which then can be converted to butanol either directly through aldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenases or via buyrate via phosphotranscaetylase and butyrate kinase, aldehyde ferredoxin oxidoreduactase and alcohol dehydrogenase., an NADPH dependent butyryl-CoA reductase (EC 1.1.2.10; bldh e.g. from Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicm Nl-4: AGF59413.1, GenelD: Cspa_c56880) and aldehyde reductase (EC 1.1.1.1; adhA e.g. from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803: NP_443028.1, GeneID:951896) (Figure 7) can be used. [000249] Two molecules of acetyl-CoA are converted to crotonyl-CoA by three enzymes encoded by phaABJ from Ralstonia eutropha. Two acetyl-CoA are condensed to acetoacetyl-CoA by thiolase followed by reduction to R-3 hydroxybutyryl-CoA by the NADPH specific R-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase. The R-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA is then converted to crotonyl-CoA by R-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase.

[000250] The combination crotonyl-CoA carboxylase/reductase from Rhodobacter sphaeroides (Erb et al, 2007) and ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase from Mus musculus (mouse) (Linster et al., 2011) catalyses first the condensation of crotonyl-CoA with carbon dioxide to form ethylmalonyl-CoA with consumption of NADPH, followed by decarboxylation of ethylmalonyl-CoA to butyryl-CoA.

[000251] Butyryl-CoA reductase from Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum NI-4 cleaves the CoA moiety from butyryl-CoA to form butyraldehyde. The enzyme is presumed NADPH dependent as a homologue from Clostridium beijerinkii NRRL B592 is most active with NADPH (Yan and Chen, 1990).

[000252] The aldehyde reductase of cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 has a strong preference for NADPH reduction of medium chain length and aromatic aldehydes to alcohols (Vidal et al, 2009). The preference for reduction of butyraldehyde to butanol relative to the oxidation of butanol is 251 : 1 in favour of reduction.

Example 5

[000253] In E. coli cells grown on glucose sugar it has been demonstrated that the pool of NADH is over 20 times larger than the NADPH pool (B. D. Bennett et al, 2009), which limits many biosynthetic reactions and bioconversions especially in fermentation processes (R Poulsen et al, 2005). NADPH and NADH pools were measured in carboxidotrophic acetogenic Clostridium.

[000254] Samples from a continuous fermentation with Clostridium autoethanogenum as described in example 2 were taken and analysed. 5 mL culture samples were rapidly pelleted by centrifugation (13000 rpm at -10°C for 5 minutes), supematants removed, cell pellets snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen and then stored at -80°C until analysis. Metabolite analyses were performed on microbial pellets as described (B. D. Bennett et al., 2009; Yang et al, Clostridium thermocellum ATCC27405 transcriptomic, metabolomic and proteomic profiles after ethanol stress. BMC Genomics 2012, 13:336; Marcellin E, Quantitative analysis of intracellular sugar phosphates and sugar nucleotides in encapsulated streptococci using HPAEC-PAD, Biotechnol J 2009, 4, 58- 63.

[000255] In contrast to E. coli, in C. autoethanogenum the NADPH pool was found to be larger than the NADH pool (Fig. 77), with a ratio of 2.2: 1 NADPH+H + and NADP to NADH+H + and NADH, respectively 36.8: 1 NADPH+H + to NADH+H + demonstrating the driving force of NADPH in acetogenic carboxidotrophic Clostridia with CO as substrate.

Standard legal paragraphs

[000256] The invention has been described herein, with reference to certain preferred embodiments, in order to enable the reader to practice the invention without undue experimentation. However, a person having ordinary skill in the art will readily recognise that many of the components and parameters may be varied or modified to a certain extent or substituted for known equivalents without departing from the scope of the invention. It should be appreciated that such modifications and equivalents are herein incorporated as if individually set forth. Titles, headings, or the like are provided to enhance the reader's comprehension of this document, and should not be read as limiting the scope of the present invention.

[000257] The entire disclosures of all applications, patents and publications, cited above and below, if any, are hereby incorporated by reference. However, the reference to any applications, patents and publications in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgment or any form of suggestion that they constitute valid prior art or form part of the common general knowledge in any country.

[000258] Throughout this specification and any claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the words "comprise", "comprising" and the like, are to be construed in an inclusive sense as opposed to an exclusive sense, that is to say, in the sense of "including, but not limited to". References:

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