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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Jun;76(11):3668-74. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00341-10. Epub 2010 Apr 9.

Construction and application of variants of the Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 arylacetonitrilase for increased production of acids or amides.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie, Universität Stuttgart, Allmandring 31, Stuttgart, Germany.


The arylacetonitrilase from Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 differs from previously studied arylacetonitrilases by its low enantiospecificity during the turnover of mandelonitrile and by the large amounts of amides that are formed in the course of this reaction. In the sequence of the nitrilase from P. fluorescens, a cysteine residue (Cys163) is present in direct neighborhood (toward the amino terminus) to the catalytic active cysteine residue, which is rather unique among bacterial nitrilases. Therefore, this cysteine residue was exchanged in the nitrilase from P. fluorescens EBC191 for various amino acid residues which are present in other nitrilases at the homologous position. The influence of these mutations on the reaction specificity and enantiospecificity was analyzed with (R,S)-mandelonitrile and (R,S)-2-phenylpropionitrile as substrates. The mutants obtained demonstrated significant differences in their amide-forming capacities. The exchange of Cys163 for asparagine or glutamine residues resulted in significantly increased amounts of amides formed. In contrast, a substitution for alanine or serine residues decreased the amounts of amides formed. The newly discovered mutation was combined with previously identified mutations which also resulted in increased amide formation. Thus, variants which possessed in addition to the mutation Cys163Asn also a deletion at the C terminus of the enzyme and/or the modification Ala165Arg were constructed. These constructs demonstrated increased amide formation capacity in comparison to the mutants carrying only single mutations. The recombinant plasmids that encoded enzyme variants which formed large amounts of mandeloamide or that formed almost stoichiometric amounts of mandelic acid from mandelonitrile were used to transform Escherichia coli strains that expressed a plant-derived (S)-hydroxynitrile lyase. The whole-cell biocatalysts obtained in this way converted benzaldehyde plus cyanide either to (S)-mandeloamide or (S)-mandelic acid with high yields and enantiopurities.

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