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PHA synthase engineering toward superbiocatalysts for custom-made biopolymers


Poly-3-hydroxyalkanoates [P(3HA)s] are biologically produced polyesters that have attracted much attention as biodegradable polymers that can be produced from biorenewable resources. These polymers have many attractive properties for use as bulk commodity plastics, fishing lines, and medical uses that are dependent on the repeating unit structures. Despite the readily apparent benefits of using P(3HA)s as replacements for petrochemical-derived plastics, the use and distribution of P(3HA)s have been limited by their cost of production. This problem is currently being addressed by the engineering of enzymes involved in the production of P(3HA)s. Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase (PhaC) enzymes, which catalyze the polymerization of 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA monomers to P(3HA)s, were subjected to various forms of protein engineering to improve the enzyme activity or substrate specificity. This review covers the recent history of PHA synthase engineering and also summarizes studies that have utilized engineered PHA synthases.

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The authors thank Dr. Ken’ichiro Matsumoto (Tokyo University of Science) for valuable discussions and input regarding this review. Also, we are deeply indebted to a great contribution of Dr. Kazuma Takase to the works introduced in the review. Our works described here were partly supported by funding from the following sources: Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research of Japan (no. 70216828) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (to S. Taguchi), Solution Oriented Research for Science, Technology (SORST) of the Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST), Hokkaido Foundation for the Promotion of Scientific and Industrial Technology, and Industrial Technology Research Grant Program in 2003 from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

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Correspondence to Seiichi Taguchi.

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Nomura, C.T., Taguchi, S. PHA synthase engineering toward superbiocatalysts for custom-made biopolymers. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 73, 969–979 (2007).

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  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • PHA synthase
  • Genetic engineering
  • In vitro evolution
  • Escherichia coli
  • Ralstonia eutropha
  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • PHA monomer-supplying enzymes