Enzymes

An enzymatic route to alkenes

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Science  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1144
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6367.1144-b

Conversion of fatty acids to fully deoxygenated hydrocarbons is a challenging reaction for which few biological routes are known. Christenson et al. have characterized a bacterial enzyme, OleB, that catalyzes decarboxylation of fatty acid-derived β-lactones to form cis-olefins. OleB is a member of an enzyme family that typically uses a nucleophilic carboxylate in hydrolysis reactions. Sequence analysis and biochemical assays suggest that the conserved catalytic residues have been adapted to facilitate excision of the β-lactone. This group of enzymes may prove to be useful for biofuel production if their substrate range and efficiency can be tuned through engineering.

Biochemistry 56, 5278 (2017).

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