One-pot synthesis of amino-alcohols using a de-novo transketolase and beta-alanine: pyruvate transaminase pathway in Escherichia coli

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2007 Feb 15;96(3):559-69. doi: 10.1002/bit.21125.


Biocatalysis continues to emerge as a powerful technique for the efficient synthesis of optically pure pharmaceuticals that are difficult to access via conventional chemistry. The power of biocatalysis can be enhanced if two or more reactions can be achieved by a single whole cell biocatalyst containing a pathway designed de-novo to facilitate a required synthetic sequence. The enzymes transketolase (TK) and transaminase (TAm) respectively catalyze asymmetric carbon--carbon bond formation and amine group addition to suitable substrate molecules. The ability of a transaminase to accept the product of the transketolase reaction can allow the two catalysts to be employed in series to create chiral amino-alcohols from achiral substrates. As proof of principle, the beta-alanine: pyruvate aminotransferase (beta-A:P TAm) from Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been cloned, to create plasmid pQR428, for overexpression in E.coli strain BL21gold(DE3). Production of the beta-A:P TAm alongside the native transketolase (overexpressed from plasmid pQR411), in a single E.coli host, has created a novel biocatalyst capable of the synthesis of chiral amino alcohols via a synthetic two-step pathway. The feasibility of using the biocatalyst has been demonstrated by the formation of a single diastereoisomer of 2-amino-1,3,4-butanetriol (ABT) product, in up to 21% mol/mol yield, by the beta-A:P TAm, via transamination of L-erythrulose synthesized by TK, from achiral substrates glycolaldehyde (GA) and beta-hydroxypyruvate (beta-HPA). ABT synthesis was achieved in a one-pot process, using either whole cells of the dual plasmid strain or cell lysate, while the dual alcohol-amine functionality of ABT makes it an excellent synthon for many pharmaceutical syntheses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Alcohols / chemical synthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Catalysis
  • Cell-Free System / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / enzymology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Transketolase / chemistry*
  • Transketolase / genetics
  • beta-Alanine-Pyruvate Transaminase / chemistry*
  • beta-Alanine-Pyruvate Transaminase / genetics


  • Amino Alcohols
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transketolase
  • beta-Alanine-Pyruvate Transaminase