There have been extensive biotransformation researches for production of materials that can be utilized in the industries. It has been known that biological synthesis of the chemicals is considered environmentally benign as compared to the chemical synthesis. In addition, biological synthesis could give you sometimes very unique and unexpected novel chemicals, which draw more attention to the researchers. Therefore, thousands of chemicals, proteins, genes, and organisms have been patented worldwide (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1 Biotransformation - Chemical modification by enzymes
In current, bacterial oxygenases such as biphenyl dioxygenase and naphthalene dioxygenase are current biological weapons for biotranformation in our lab. Those enzymes have dihydroxylation activities as described in Fig.2. We have applied these enzymes for converting (iso)flavones similar to biphenyl and naphthalene into chiral products (Fig. 3.). To localize specifically hydroxyl groups on the (iso)flavones or extend substrate ranges, we are creating a new NDO or BDO enzymes using molecular docking systems and protein engineering. These systemic protein engineering for biotransformation sheds light on production of valu-added products, which could be utilized in industries.
Fig. 2 Dihydroxylation of aromatic compounds by naphthalene and biphenyl dioxygenase
Fig.3 Chemical modification of isoflavone by naphthalene and biphenyl dioxygenase