Research Team



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Phenylalanine ammonia lyases (PALs) catalyse the non-oxidative deamination of l-phenylalanine to trans-cinnamic acid, while in the presence of high ammonia concentration the reverse reaction occurs. The PAL-mediated large scale synthesis of non-natural amino acids is limited, mainly due to the decreased operational stability. The main goal of the SIR-PAL project is to develop highly stable and active phenylalanine ammonia lyase-based biocatalysts through site-specific covalent immobilization techniques employing: 1) site-specific incorporation of unnatural amino acids and 2) maleimide/thiol coupling of engineered enzymes. These immobilization methods afford highly stable biocatalysts (through strong covalent binding to the support) and allow modulation of enzymatic activity (through control of orientation of the enzyme attached to the support, by proper selection of binding site). The novel biocatalysts will be applied in enzymatic kinetic resolutions and asymmetric additions in batch and continuous-flow packed-bed reactors, with the aim of developing efficient biocatalytic procedures for obtaining optically pure industrially relevant unnatural amino acids.