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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2007 Apr;11(2):220-5. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Stability of biocatalysts.

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School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Parker H Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience, USA.


Despite their many favorable qualities, the marginal stability of biocatalysts in many types of reaction media often has prevented or delayed their implementation for industrial-scale synthesis of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Consequently, there is great interest in understanding effects of solution conditions on protein stability, as well as in developing strategies to improve protein stability in desired reaction media. Recent methods include novel chemical modifications of protein, lyophilization in the presence of additives, and physical immobilization on novel supports. Rational and combinatorial protein engineering techniques have been used to yield unmodified proteins with exceptionally improved stability. Both have been aided by the development of computational tools and structure-guided heuristics aimed at reducing library sizes that must be generated and screened to identify improved mutants. The number of parameters used to indicate protein stability can complicate discussions and investigations, and care should be taken to identify whether thermodynamic or kinetic stability limits the observed stability of proteins. Although the useful lifetime of a biocatalyst is dictated by its kinetic stability, only 6% of protein stability studies use kinetic stability measures. Clearly, more effort is needed to study how solution conditions impact protein kinetic stability.

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