Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology

Behavior of silica aerogel networks as highly porous solid solvent media for lipases in a model transesterification reaction.

PMID 12616634


Highly porous silica aerogels with differing balances of hydrophobic and hydrophilic functionalities were studied as a new immobilization medium for enzymes. Two types of lipases from Candida rugosa and Burkholderia cepacia were homogeneously dispersed in wet gel precursors before gelation. The materials obtained were compared in a simple model reaction: transesterification of vinyl laurate by 1-octanol. To allow a better comparison of the hydrophobic/hydrophilic action of the solid, very open aerogel networks with traditional organic hydrophobic/hydrophilic liquid solvents, this reaction was studied in mixtures containing different proportions of 2-methyl-2-butanol, isooctane, and water. The results are discussed in relation to the porous and hydrophobic nature of aerogels, characterized by nitrogen adsorption. It was found that silica aerogels can be considered as "solid" solvents for the enzymes, able to provide hydrophobic/hydrophilic characteristics different from those prevailing in the liquid surrounding the aerogels. A simple mechanism of action for these aerogel networks is proposed.