Understanding thermal and organic solvent stability of thermoalkalophilic lipases: insights from computational predictions and experiments

J Mol Model. 2020 May 8;26(6):122. doi: 10.1007/s00894-020-04396-3.


Bacillus thermocatenulatus lipase (BTL2), a member of the isolated lipase family known as thermoalkalophilic lipases, carries potential for industrial applications owing to its ability to catalyze versatile reactions under extreme conditions. This study investigates the molecular effects of distinct solvents on the stability of BTL2 at different temperatures, aiming to contribute to lipase use in industrial applications. Initially, molecular dynamic (MD) simulations were carried out to address for the molecular impacts of distinct solvents on the structural stability of BTL2 at different temperatures. Two lipase conformations representing the active and inactive forms were simulated in 5 solvents including water, ethanol, methanol, cyclohexane, and toluene. Low temperature simulations showed that polar solvents led to enhanced lid fluctuations compared with non-polar solvents reflecting a more dynamic equilibrium between active and inactive lipase conformations in polar solvents including water, while the overall structure of the lipase in both forms became more rigid in non-polar solvents than they were in polar solvent. Notably, the native lipase fold was maintained in non-polar solvents even at high temperatures, indicating an enhancement of lipase's thermostability in non-polar organic solvents. Next, we conducted experiments for which BTL2 was expressed in a heterologous host and purified to homogeneity, and its thermostability in different solvents was assessed. Parallel to the computational findings, experimental results suggested that non-polar organic solvents contributed to BTL2's thermostability at concentrations as high as 70% (v/v). Altogether, this study provides beneficial insights to the lipase use under extreme conditions. Graphical Abstract.

Keywords: Biocatalysis; Molecular dynamic simulations; Organic solvent stability; Thermoalkalophilic lipases; Thermostability.

MeSH terms

  • 2-Propanol / chemistry
  • Acetone / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cyclohexanes / chemistry
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Ethanol / chemistry
  • Geobacillus / enzymology*
  • Hymecromone / analogs & derivatives
  • Hymecromone / metabolism
  • Lipase / chemistry*
  • Lipase / metabolism*
  • Methanol / chemistry
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Solvents / chemistry*
  • Temperature*
  • Toluene / chemistry


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cyclohexanes
  • Solvents
  • Acetone
  • 4-methylumbelliferyl butyrate
  • Toluene
  • Ethanol
  • Hymecromone
  • Cyclohexane
  • Lipase
  • 2-Propanol
  • Methanol

Supplementary concepts

  • Geobacillus thermocatenulatus