Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 85, Issue 4, pp 995–1004 | Cite as

In vitro evolution of styrene monooxygenase from Pseudomonas putida CA-3 for improved epoxide synthesis

  • Lucas J. Gursky
  • Jasmina Nikodinovic-Runic
  • K. Anton Feenstra
  • Kevin E. O’Connor
Biotechnologically Relevant Enzymes and Proteins


The styAB genes from Pseudomonas putida CA-3, which encode styrene monooxygenase, were subjected to three rounds of in vitro evolution using error-prone polymerase chain reaction with a view to improving the rate of styrene oxide and indene oxide formation. Improvements in styrene monooxygenase activity were monitored using an indole to indigo conversion assay. Each round of random mutagenesis generated variants improved in indigo formation with third round variants improved nine- to 12-fold over the wild type enzyme. Each round of in vitro evolution resulted in two to three amino acid substitutions in styrene monooxygenase. While the majority of mutations occurred in styA (oxygenase), mutations were also observed in styB (reductase). A mutation resulting in the substitution of valine with isoleucine at amino acid residue 303 occurred near the styrene and flavin adenine dinucleotide binding site of styrene monooxygenase. One mutation caused a shift in the reading frame in styA and resulted in a StyA variant that is 19 amino acids longer than the wild-type protein. Whole cells expressing the best styrene monooxygenase variants (round 3) exhibited eight- and 12-fold improvements in styrene and indene oxidation rates compared to the wild-type enzyme. In all cases, a single enantiomer, (S)-styrene oxide, was formed from styrene while (1S,2R)-indene oxide was the predominant enantiomer (e.e. 97%) formed from indene. The average yield of styrene oxide and indene oxide from their respective alkene substrates was 65% and 90%, respectively.


Biocatalysis Directed evolution Epoxidation Styrene monooxygenase 



This work was supported by the Science Foundation Ireland (grant no. 04/IN3/B581). We thank Dr. Derek Boyd and Dr. Narain Sharma, Queens University Belfast, for the synthesis of 1S-2R-indene oxide.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas J. Gursky
    • 1
  • Jasmina Nikodinovic-Runic
    • 1
  • K. Anton Feenstra
    • 2
  • Kevin E. O’Connor
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences, Ardmore House, and the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical BiologyUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Centre for Integrative Bioinformatics VU (IBIVU), VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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