Biodiversity for biocatalysis

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Natural biodiversity undoubtedly inspires biocatalysis research and innovation. Biotransformations of interest also inspire the search for appropriate biocatalysts in nature. Indeed, natural genetic resources have been found to support the hydrolysis and synthesis of not only common but also unusual synthetic scaffolds. The emerging tool of metagenomics has the advantage of allowing straightforward identification of activity directly applicable as biocatalysis. However, new enzymes must not only have outstanding properties in terms of performance but also other properties superior to those of well-established commercial preparations in order to successfully replace the latter. Esterases (EST) and lipases (LIP) from the α/β-hydrolase fold superfamily are among the enzymes primarily used in biocatalysis. Accordingly, they have been extensively examined with metagenomics. Here we provided an updated (October 2015) overview of sequence and functional data sets of 288 EST–LIP enzymes with validated functions that have been isolated in metagenomes and (mostly partially) characterized. Through sequence, biochemical, and reactivity analyses, we attempted to understand the phenomenon of variability and versatility within this group of enzymes and to implement this knowledge to identify sequences encoding EST–LIP which may be useful for biocatalysis. We found that the diversity of described EST–LIP polypeptides was not dominated by a particular type of protein or highly similar clusters of proteins but rather by diverse nonredundant sequences. Purified EST–LIP exhibited a wide temperature activity range of 10–85 °C, although a preferred bias for a mesophilic temperature range (35–40 °C) was observed. At least 60% of the total characterized metagenomics-derived EST–LIP showed outstanding properties in terms of stability (solvent tolerance) and reactivity (selectivity and substrate profile), which are the features of interest in biocatalysis. We hope that, in the future, the search for and utilization of sequences similar to those already encoded and characterized EST–LIP enzymes from metagenomes may be of interest for promoting unresolved biotransformations in the chemical industry. Some examples are discussed in this review.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-249
JournalBiocatalysis and Biotransformation
Volume33
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

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