A procedure for the preparation of optically pure alpha-keto-gamma-hydroxy carboxylic acids through stereospecific aldol addition catalyzed by pyruvate aldolases from the Entner-Doudoroff and the DeLey-Doudoroff glycolytic pathways is described. This highly versatile fragment serves as a precursor for a variety of commonly encountered functionalities, including beta-hydroxy aldehydes and carboxylic acids, alpha-amino-gamma-hydroxy carboxylic acids and alpha,gamma-dihydroxy carboxylic acids. The protocol described here uses recombinant His6-tagged KDPG aldolase for the synthesis of (S)-4-hydroxy-2-keto-4-(2'-pyridyl)butyrate. A protocol for evaluating enantiomeric excess through formation of the gamma-lactone of the dithioacetal followed by chiral-phase gas-liquid chromatography is also described. Enzyme expression and enzymatic synthesis can be accomplished in approximately 1 week. The enzymatic aldol addition proceeds in nearly quantitative yields with enantiomeric excesses greater than 99.7%.
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