Varying the Directionality of Protein Catalysts for Aldol and Retro-Aldol Reactions

Chembiochem. 2022 Jan 19;23(2):e202100435. doi: 10.1002/cbic.202100435. Epub 2021 Nov 11.


Natural aldolase enzymes and created retro-aldolase protein catalysts often catalyze both aldol and retro-aldol reactions depending on the concentrations of the reactants and the products. Here, we report that the directionality of protein catalysts can be altered by replacing one amino acid. The protein catalyst derived from a scaffold of a previously reported retro-aldolase catalyst, catalyzed aldol reactions more efficiently than the previously reported retro-aldolase catalyst. The retro-aldolase catalyst efficiently catalyzed the retro-aldol reaction but was less efficient in catalyzing the aldol reaction. The results indicate that protein catalysts with varying levels of directionality in usually reversibly catalyzed aldol and retro-aldol reactions can be generated from the same protein scaffold.

Keywords: aldol reaction; biocatalysis; designer catalysts; directionality; retro-aldol reaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / metabolism*
  • Catalysis
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Aldehydes
  • Proteins
  • 3-hydroxybutanal