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Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Volume 69, 2021, Pages 91-102

Enzymes in biotechnology: Critical platform technologies for bioprocess development

Constantinos Katsimpouras, Gregory Stephanopoulos

Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 02139 MA, USA.


Enzymes are core elements of biosynthetic pathways employed in the synthesis of numerous bioproducts. Here, we review enzyme promiscuity, enzyme engineering, enzyme immobilization, and cell-free systems as fundamental strategies of bioprocess development. Initially, promiscuous enzymes are the first candidates in the quest for new activities to power new, artificial, or bypass pathways that expand substrate range and catalyze the production of new products. If the activity or regulation of available enzymes is unsuitable for a process, protein engineering can be applied to improve them to the required level. When cell toxicity and low productivity cannot be engineered away, cell-free systems are an attractive option, especially in combination with enzyme immobilization that allows extended enzyme use. Overall, the above methods support powerful platforms for bioprocess development and optimization.

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