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Robust and selective lipolytic biocatalysts for industrial applications

The manufacturing in the chemical industry still relies on classical chemical routes in which high temperatures and harsh reaction conditions are required. The usage of enzymes as biocatalysts can overcome this challenge and allow reactions at lower temperatures, reducing energy demand but, at the same time, increasing speed and efficiency by, for example, avoiding additional reaction steps like functional group protection. Currently, the application of biocatalysis in the synthesis routes is limited to a few single steps because there is a significant lack of enzymes showing a predictable behaviour during process development.

The LipoBiocat project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the framework of the German “National Research Strategy Bioeconomy 2030“ in the program „Tailor-made biobased ingredients for a competitive bioeconomy, aims to provide solutions for biocatalytic challenges as identified by two important chemical industries. Enzymes have been evolved by nature to work in living cells and under mild reaction conditions; consequently, most enzymes do not operate properly and cost-efficiently in industrial processes. Therefore, a steadily growing industrial demand exists for robust biocatalysts that can catalyze a huge variety of different reactions with high activity, substrate specificity and enantioselectivity. LipoBiocat aims to identify and provide such biocatalysts by the following approaches: (i) Natural enzyme diversity will be used to identify new enzymes for the synthesis and “on demand” hydrolysis of polymers. Here, an innovative peptide-mediated adhesion technology will be established to enhance polymer binding and hydrolysis efficiency. (ii) Knowledge-based enzyme diversity will be created by applying a newly developed computational workflow to construct promiscuous and robust enzymes, e.g. for implementation into chemical synthesis routes for manufacturing pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. The newly developed strategy is expected to serve as a blueprint for a rapid identification also of other industrially relevant enzymes.

Thus, LipoBiocat should deliver important contributions to making industrial biocatalysis more attractive and profitable.

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