Over the past ten years, scientific and technological advances have established biocatalysis as a practical and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional metallo- and organocatalysis in chemical synthesis, both in the laboratory and on an industrial scale. Key advances in DNA sequencing and gene synthesis are at the base of tremendous progress in tailoring biocatalysts by protein engineering and design, and the ability to reorganize enzymes into new biosynthetic pathways. To highlight these achievements, here we discuss applications of protein-engineered biocatalysts ranging from commodity chemicals to advanced pharmaceutical intermediates that use enzyme catalysis as a key step.
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Acknowledgements We thank H.-P. Meyer and R. Fox for discussions. R.J.K. thanks the US National Science Foundation (CBET-0932762) and the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (WCU programme R32-2008-000-10213-0). U.T.B. and S.L. thank the German Research Foundation (SPP 1170, Bo1864/4-1) and, respectively, the US National Science Foundation (CBET-0730312) for financial support.