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Extremophiles. 2002 Aug;6(4):325-31. Epub 2002 Mar 26.

Modification of the enantioselectivity of two homologous thermophilic carboxylesterases from Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius and Archaeoglobus fulgidus by random mutagenesis and screening.

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Istituto di Biochimica delle Proteine, CNR, Via P. Castellino 10, 80125, Napoli, Italy.


The esterase genes est2 from Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius and AF1716 from Archaeoglobus fulgidus were subjected to error-prone PCR in an effort to increase the low enantioselectivity of the corresponding enzymes EST2 and AFEST, respectively. The model substrate ( RS)- p-nitrophenyl-2-chloropropionate was chosen to produce ( S)-2-chloropropionic acid, an important intermediate in the synthesis of some optically pure compounds, such as the herbicide mecoprop. In the case of EST2, a single mutant, Leu212Pro, was obtained showing a slightly enhanced preference toward the ( S) substrate; in the case of AFEST, a double mutant, Leu101Ile/Asp117Gly, was obtained showing an increased preference in the opposite direction. The 3-D structures of the EST2 and AFEST enzymes were analyzed by molecular modeling to determine the effects of the mutations. Mutations were positioned differently in the structures, but in both cases caused small modifications around the active site and in the oxyanion loop.

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