Enzymes from Higher Eukaryotes for Industrial Biocatalysis

Zhibin Liu1, Roland Weis1 and Anton Glieder2*

Research Centre Applied Biocatalysis, Petersgasse 14, A-8010 Graz, Austria

2Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Petersgasse 14, A-8010 Graz, Austria

Article history:

Received August 6, 2004
Accepted November 22, 2004

Key words:

enzymes, eukaryotes, industrial biocatalysis


The industrial production of fine chemicals, feed and food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and their respective intermediates relies on an increasing application of biocatalysis, i.e. on enzyme or whole-cell catalyzed conversions of molecules. Simple procedures for discovery, cloning and over-expression as well as fast growth favour fungi, yeasts and especially bacteria as sources of biocatalysts. Higher eukaryotes also harbour an almost unlimited number of potential biocatalysts, although to date the limited supply of enzymes, the high heterogeneity of enzyme preparations and the hazard of infectious contaminants keep some interesting candidates out of reach for industrial bioprocesses. In the past only a few animal and plant enzymes from agricultural waste materials were employed in food processing. The use of bacterial expression strains or non-conventional yeasts for the heterologous production of efficient eukaryotic enzymes can overcome the bottleneck in enzyme supply and provide sufficient amounts of homogenous enzyme preparations for reliable and economically feasible applications at large scale. Ideal enzymatic processes represent an environmentally friendly, »near-to-completion« conversion of (mostly non-natural) substrates to pure products. Recent developments demonstrate the commercial feasibility of large-scale biocatalytic processes employing enzymes from higher eukaryotes (e.g. plants, animals) and also their usefulness in some small-scale industrial applications.

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