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Methods Mol Biol. 2012;794:37-54. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-331-8_3.

Enzymatic production of enantiopure amino acids from mono-substituted hydantoin substrates.

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Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology, Rhodes University, Grahanstown, South Africa.


Biocatalytic conversion of 5-substituted hydantoin derivatives is an efficient method for the production of unnatural enantiomerically pure amino acids. The enzymes required to carry out this hydrolysis occur in a wide variety of eubacterial species each of which exhibit variations in substrate selectivity, enantiospecificity, and catalytic efficiency. Screening of the natural environment for bacterial strains capable of utilizing hydantoin as a nutrient source (as opposed to rational protein design of known enzymes) is a cost-effective and valuable approach for isolating microbial species with novel hydantoin-hydrolysing enzyme systems. Once candidate microbial isolates have been identified, characterization and optimization of the activity of target enzyme systems can be achieved by subjecting the hydantoin-hydrolysing system to physicochemical manipulations aimed at the enzymes activity within the natural host cells, expressed in a heterologous host, or as purified enzymes. The latter two options require knowledge of the genes encoding for the hydantoin-hydrolysing enzymes. This chapter describes the methods that can be used in conducting such development of hydantoinase-based biocatalytic routes for production of target amino acids.

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