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Biomol Eng. 2005 Jun;22(1-3):11-9.

Directed evolution of biocatalytic processes.

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Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London, Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE, UK.


The benefits of applying biocatalysts to organic synthesis, such as their high chemo-, regio-, and enantio-specificity and selectivity, must be seriously considered, especially where chemical routes are unavailable, complex or prohibitively expensive. In cases where a potential biocatalytic route is not yet efficient enough to compete with chemical synthesis, directed evolution, and/or process engineering could be implemented for improvements. While directed evolution has demonstrated great potential to enhance enzyme properties, there will always be some aspects of biocatalytic processes that it does not address. Even where it can be successfully applied, the resources required for its implementation must currently be weighed against the feasibility of, and resources available for developing a chemical synthesis route. Here, we review the potential of combining directed evolution with process engineering, and recent developments to improve their implementation. Favourable targets for the directed evolution of new biocatalysts are the syntheses of highly complex molecules, especially where chemistry, metabolic engineering or recombineering provide a partial solution. We also review some of the recent advances in the application of these approaches alongside the directed evolution of biocatalysts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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