Biocatalysis: Successfully Crossing Boundaries

Biocatalysis: Successfully Crossing Boundaries

Author: Jonathan Faiz

The field of biocatalysis has evolved over the last few decades from studies with a few available enzymes to a mature interdisciplinary field that involves bioinformatics, protein engineering, and molecular biology.

In his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Uwe Bornscheuer from the University of Greifswald, Germany, explains how the field has developed. The number of available protein sequences has greatly increased and thus novel enzymes can be easily identified. Bioinformatic tools can be used to analyze protein sequences and design enzymes, and transition-metal or organocatalysts can be combined with biocatalysts for multistep one-pot reactions. Furthermore, several different enzymes can be combined in cascade reactions, and host organisms can be metabolically engineered so that these reactions can take place in living microbial cells.

Recent examples of biocatalysis include making enzymatic reactions useful for organic synthesis, the development of artifical metalloenzymes, and the use of imine reductases for the synthesis of chiral amines. According to Professor  Bornscheuer, the field would further benefit from greater collaboration between scientists working in biocatalysis and chemical catalysis.


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