Applied and environmental microbiology

Styrene oxide isomerase of Rhodococcus opacus 1CP, a highly stable and considerably active enzyme.

PMID 22504818


Styrene oxide isomerase (SOI) is involved in peripheral styrene catabolism of bacteria and converts styrene oxide to phenylacetaldehyde. Here, we report on the identification, enrichment, and biochemical characterization of a novel representative from the actinobacterium Rhodococcus opacus 1CP. The enzyme, which is strongly induced during growth on styrene, was shown to be membrane integrated, and a convenient procedure was developed to highly enrich the protein in active form from the wild-type host. A specific activity of about 370 U mg(-1) represents the highest activity reported for this enzyme class so far. This, in combination with a wide pH and temperature tolerance, the independence from cofactors, and the ability to convert a spectrum of substituted styrene oxides, makes a biocatalytic application imaginable. First, semipreparative conversions were performed from which up to 760 μmol of the pure phenylacetaldehyde could be obtained from 130 U of enriched SOI. Product concentrations of up to 76 mM were achieved. However, due to the high chemical reactivity of the aldehyde function, SOI was shown to be the subject of an irreversible product inhibition. A half-life of 15 min was determined at a phenylacetaldehyde concentration of about 55 mM, indicating substantial limitations of applicability and the need to modify the process.