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Issue 5, 2013
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Directed laccase evolution for improved ionic liquid resistance

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In nature, the biodegradation of lignin is a challenging process since lignin is highly cross-linked and poorly water-soluble. Laccases (EC, benzenediol: oxygen oxidoreductase) play a key role in the enzymatic degradation of lignin and ionic liquids (ILs) have been used successfully to dissolve lignin. One limitation in lignin degradation using laccases is their low activity/resistance in the presence of ILs. In order to improve the resistance of laccase in IL, a directed evolution protocol based on the ABTS (2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid))-screening assay in 96-well microtiter plate format was developed. 1-Ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ethylsulfate ([EMIM] [EtSO4]) can dissolve lignin efficiently and its anion does not inhibit laccase. The stability of the ABTS radical cation was not affected in the presence of [EMIM] [EtSO4]. Therefore, ([EMIM] [EtSO4]) is a suitable cosolvent for directed laccase evolution. Four laccases (lcc1_2005, lcc1_1997, lcc2 and CVLG1) from T. versicolor (Trametes versicolor) were expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and finally lcc2 was selected as the starting point due to its superior resistance and activity in presence of [EMIM] [EtSO4]. After two rounds of directed evolution, the lcc2 variant M3 (Phe265Ser/Ala318Val) displayed about 4.5-fold higher activity than the lcc2 wild type (WT) in the presence of 15% (v/v) [EMIM] [EtSO4] and a 3.5-fold higher activity than lcc2 WT in buffer. The IC50 value of [EMIM] [EtSO4] towards M3 increases from 392 mM (lcc2 WT) to 497 mM.

Graphical abstract: Directed laccase evolution for improved ionic liquid resistance

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Supplementary files

Article information

27 Nov 2012
25 Mar 2013
First published
25 Mar 2013

Green Chem., 2013,15, 1348-1355
Article type

Directed laccase evolution for improved ionic liquid resistance

H. Liu, L. Zhu, M. Bocola, N. Chen, A. C. Spiess and U. Schwaneberg, Green Chem., 2013, 15, 1348
DOI: 10.1039/C3GC36899H

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