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Enzyme Microb Technol. 1997 Apr;20(5):393-400.

An efficient process for production of N-acetylneuraminic acid using N-acetylneuraminic acid aldolase.

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Glaxo Wellcome Research and Development, Medicines Research Centre, Stevenage, Herts, United Kingdom.


N-acetyl-D-neuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) aldolase (EC has bee reported for synthesis of Neu5Ac,1-5 but there are no reports of processes which do not have significant drawbacks for large-scale operation. Here, Neu5Ac aldolase from an overexpressing recombinant strain of Escherichia coli has been used to develop an immobilized enzyme process for production of Neu5Ac. The enzyme was immobilized onto Eupergit-C and could be reused many times in the reaction. Base-catalyzed epimerization of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) yielded GlcNAc/N-acetyl-D-mannosamine (ManNAc) mixtures (c 4:1) which could be used directly in the aldolase reaction; however, inhibition of the enzyme by GlcNAc limited the concentration of ManNAc which could be used in the reaction by this approach. This necessitated the addition of a large molar excess of pyruvate (five- to seven-fold) to drive the equilibrium over to Neu5Ac; nevertheless, a method has been developed to remove the excess pyruvate effectively by complexation with bisulfite, thus allowing Neu5Ac to be recovered by absorption onto an anion-exchange resin. In a second approach, a method has been developed to enrich GlcNAc/ManNAc mixtures for ManNAc. ManNAc can be used at high concentrations in the reaction, thus obviating the need to use a large molar excess of pyruvate. Neu5Ac can be isolated from such reaction mixtures by a simple crystallization. This work shows the importance of integrated process solutions for the effective scale-up of biotransformation reactions.

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