Thymidine is an important precursor in the production of various antiviral drugs, including azidothymidine for the treatment of AIDS. Since thymidine-containing nucleotides are synthesized only by the de novo pathway during DNA synthesis, it is not easy to produce a large amount of thymidine biologically. In order to develop a host strain to produce thymidine, thymidine phosphorylase, thymidine kinase, and uridine phosphorylase genes were deleted from an Escherichia coli BL21 strain to develop BLdtu. Since the genes coding for the enzymes related to the nucleotide salvage pathway were disrupted, BLdtu was unable to utilize thymidine or thymine, and thymidine degradation activity was completely abrogated. We additionally expressed T4 thymidylate synthase, T4 nucleotide diphosphate reductase, bacteriophage PBS2 TMP phosphohydrolase, E. coli dCTP deaminase, and E. coli uridine kinase in the BLdtu strain to develop a thymidine-producing strain (BLdtu24). BLdtu24 produced 649.3 mg liter−1 of thymidine in a 7-liter batch fermenter for 24 h, and neither thymine nor uridine was detected. However, the dUTP/dTTP ratio was increased in BLdtu24, which could lead to increased double-strand breakages and eventually to cell deaths during fermentation. To enhance thymidine production and to prevent cell deaths during fermentation, we disrupted a gene (encoding uracil-DNA N-glycosylase) involved in DNA excision repair to suppress the consumption of dTTP and developed BLdtug24. Compared with the thymidine production in BLdtu24, the thymidine production in BLdtug24 was increased by ∼1.2-fold (740.3 mg liter−1). Here, we show that a thymidine-producing strain with a relatively high yield can be developed using a metabolic engineering approach
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