Efficient Production of Renewable Chemicals through Rewiring Transporter Protein Sugar Preferences in Yeast

Physical Sciences : Chemical

Available for licensing


  • Hal Alper, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • Sunmi Lee , University of Texas at Austin
  • Eric Young , University of Texas at Austin

Background/unmet need

Lignocellulosic biomass is an attractive industrial feedstock that can be converted into liquid transportation fuels and other small-molecule bioproducts via microbial and fungal fermentation. Molecular transporters transit small molecules across the cellular membrane and, in doing so, perform the first true step of any metabolic pathway.

Most traditional metabolic engineering approaches assume that internal cellular pathways limit maximum production rates and thus rely on replacing low-capacity enzymes with over-expressed or optimized versions. These prior studies all suggest that an idealized transporter that is both efficient and specific for xylose may not readily exist. Thus, protein engineering may be needed to generate improved xylose molecular transporters for yeast.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a method to rewire sugar transporter properties and kinetics for improved and exclusive xylose uptake. This work advances biofuels and biochemicals production from lignocellulosic material.


    Enables expedited uptake and catabolism of xylose, a non-canonical sugar in yeast.


    Establishes novel, xylose exclusive transporters and rewires sugar uptake. 

Market potential/applications

- Biofuels industry
- Chemical industry
- Materials industry 

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status