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J Biotechnol. 2012 Jun 15;159(3):188-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2011.12.023. Epub 2012 Jan 2.

TTC-based screening assay for ω-transaminases: a rapid method to detect reduction of 2-hydroxy ketones.

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Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-1: Biotechnology, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Leo-Brandt-Str. 1, 52425 Jülich, Germany.


A rapid TTC-based screening assay for ω-transaminases was developed to determine the conversion of substrates with a 2-hydroxy ketone motif. Oxidation of the compounds in the presence of 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) results in a reduction of the colourless TTC to a red-coloured 1,3,5-triphenylformazan. The enzymatic reductive amination of a wide range of various aliphatic, aliphatic-aromatic and aromatic-aromatic 2-hydroxy ketones can be determined by the decrease of the red colouration due to substrate consumption. The conversion can be quantified spectrophotometrically at 510 nm based on reactions, e.g. with crude cell extracts in 96-well plates. Since the assay is independent of the choice of diverse amine donors a panel of ω-transaminases was screened to detect conversion of 2-hydroxy ketones with three different amine donors: l-alanine, (S)-α-methylbenzylamine and benzylamine. The results could be validated using HPLC and GC analyses, showing a deviation of only 5-10%. Using this approach enzymes were identified demonstrating high conversions of acetoin and phenylacetylcarbinol to the corresponding amines. Among these enzymes three novel wild-type ω-transaminases have been identified.

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