Applied microbiology and biotechnology

Random mutagenesis of the arylacetonitrilase from Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 and identification of variants, which form increased amounts of mandeloamide from mandelonitrile.

PMID 23695777


The nitrilase from Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 was modified by introducing random mutations via error-prone PCR techniques in order to obtain nitrilase variants, which form increased amounts of mandeloamide from racemic mandelonitrile. A screening system was established and experimentally optimized, which allowed the screening of nitrilase variants with the intended phenotype. This system was based on the simultaneous expression of nitrilase variants and the mandeloamide converting amidase from Rhodococcus rhodochrous MP50 in recombinant Escherichia coli cells. The formation of increased amounts of mandeloamide from mandelonitrile by the nitrilase variants was detected after the addition of hydroxylamine and ferric iron ions by taking advantage of the acyltransferase activity of the amidase, which resulted in the formation of coloured iron(III)-hydroxamate complexes from mandeloamide. The system was applied for the screening of libraries of nitrilase variants and 30 enzyme variants identified, which formed increased amounts of mandeloamide from racemic mandelonitrile. The increase in amide formation was quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography and the genes encoding the relevant nitrilase variants sequenced. Thus, different types of mutations were identified. One group of mutants carried different deletions at the carboxy-terminus. The other types of variants carried amino acid exchanges in positions that had not been related previously to an increased amide formation. Finally, a nitrilase variant was created by combining two independently obtained point mutations. This enzyme variant demonstrated a true nitrile hydratase activity as it formed mandeloamide and mandelic acid in a ratio of about 19:1 from racemic mandelonitrile.

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Mandelonitrile, technical grade