, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 409-424
Date: 04 Aug 2010

Threonine aldolases—screening, properties and applications in the synthesis of non-proteinogenic β-hydroxy-α-amino acids

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Threonine aldolases (TAs) constitute a powerful tool for catalyzing carbon–carbon bond formations in synthetic organic chemistry, thus enabling an enantio- and diastereoselective synthesis of β-hydroxy-α-amino acids. Starting from the achiral precursors glycine and an aldehyde, two new stereogenic centres are formed in this catalytic step. The resulting chiral β-hydroxy-α-amino acid products are important precursors for pharmaceuticals such as thiamphenicol, a l-threo-phenylserine derivative or l-threo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine. TAs are pyridoxal-5-phosphate-dependent enzymes, which, in nature, catalyze the cleavage of l-threonine or l-allo-threonine to glycine and acetaldehyde in a glycine biosynthetic pathway. TAs from a broad number of species of bacteria and fungi have been isolated and characterised as biocatalysts for the synthesis of β-hydroxy-α-amino acids. In this review, screening methods to obtain novel TAs, their biological function, biochemical characterisation and preparative biotransformations with TAs are described.