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Trends Biotechnol. 2010 Aug;28(8):435-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2010.05.004. Epub 2010 Jul 1.

Enzyme-catalysis breathes new life into polyester condensation polymerizations.

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  • 1Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Six Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA.


Traditional chemical catalysts for polyester synthesis have enabled the generation of important commercial products. Undesirable characteristics of chemically catalyzed condensation polymerizations include the need to conduct reactions at high temperatures (150-280 degrees C) with metal catalysts that are toxic and lack selectivity. The latter is limiting when aspiring towards synthesis of increasingly complex and well-defined polyesters. This review describes an exciting technology that makes use of immobilized enzyme-catalysts for condensation polyester synthesis. Unlike chemical catalysts, enzymes function under mild conditions (< or =100 degrees C), which enables structure retention when polymerizing unstable monomers, circumvents the introduction of metals, and also provides selectivity that avoids protection-deprotection steps and presents unique options for structural control. Examples are provided that describe the progress made in enzyme-catalyzed polymerizations, as well as current limitations and future prospects for developing more efficient enzyme-catalysts for industrial processes.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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