Exploring the valorization potential of Starmerella bombicola lactone esterase: a novel enzyme for green catalysis

15 August 2014 → 30 November 2015
Regional and community funding: Industrial Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Bio-organic chemistry
    • Synthetic biology
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biocatalysis and enzyme technology
    • Bioprocessing, bioproduction and bioproducts
    • Fermentation
    • Industrial microbiology
Enzyme green chemistry biocatalysis macrolactones intramolecular esterification
Project description

Lactone esterase (SBLE) is unique enzyme isolated from Starmerella bombicola, a yeast that is nowadays used for the production of sophorolipids; biological surfactants that found applications in environmental cleaning and in household and cosmetic products. We previously proved that this enzyme is catalyzing a specific reaction, i.e. the intramolecular esterification of the acidic sophorolipids, which results in a lactonic form that has totally different physicochemical properties. The ability to perform this unusual condensation reaction places SBLE in a select family of industrially relevant enzymes that can catalyze esterification reactions. However, SBLE takes a special position as it does not require addition of organic solvent, making it an interesting tool for Green Chemistry to be included in enantioselective steps in the synthesis of  acrolactone compounds that have applications as pharmaceuticals, flavors or fragrances. This StarTT proposal is meant to perform additional proof‐of‐concept studies to evaluate the valorization potential of SBLE. We aim to evaluate the capacity of the SBLE to catalyze a range of esterification reactions that are used for the production of biosurfactants (glycolipids) and fragrances (hydroxyl fatty acids) and of enantioselective steps that are currently performed by another, commercially available, enzyme, CalB. Further, the yield of recombinant production of the enzyme will be improved and the valorization team will develop trajectories for valorization.