Application of a microfluidic reactor for screening cancer prodrug activation using silica-immobilized nitrobenzene nitroreductase

Biomacromolecules. 2006 Sep;7(9):2631-6. doi: 10.1021/bm060166d.


The nitroreductase-catalyzed conversion of a strong electron-withdrawing nitro group to the corresponding electron-donating hydroxylamine is useful in a variety of biotechnological applications. Activation of prodrugs for cancer treatments or antibiotic therapy are the most common applications. Here, we show that a bacterial nitrobenzene nitroreductase (NbzA) from Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes JS45 activates the dinitrobenzamide cancer prodrug CB1954 and the proantibiotic nitrofurazone. NbzA was purified by affinity chromatography and screened for substrate specificity with respect to prodrug activation. To facilitate screening of alternate potential prodrugs, polyethyleneimine-mediated silica formation was used to immobilize NbzA with high immobilization yields and high loading capacities. Greater than 80% of the NbzA was immobilized, and enzyme activity was significantly more stable than NbzA in solution. The resulting silica-encapsulated NbzA was packed into a microfluidic microreactor that proved suitable for continuous operation using nitrobenzene, CB1954, and the proantibiotic nitrofurazone. The flow-through system provides a rapid and reproducible screening method for determining the NbzA-catalyzed activation of prodrugs and proantibiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Aziridines / pharmacology
  • Biotechnology / instrumentation*
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor*
  • Enzymes, Immobilized / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Nitrobenzenes / chemistry
  • Nitroreductases / chemistry*
  • Polyethyleneimine / chemistry
  • Prodrugs / chemistry*
  • Pseudomonas / enzymology
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Aziridines
  • Enzymes, Immobilized
  • Nitrobenzenes
  • Prodrugs
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • tretazicar
  • Polyethyleneimine
  • nitrobenzene
  • aromatic NADH-dependent nitroreductase
  • Nitroreductases