Features and technical applications of ω-transaminases
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Chiral amines in enantiopure forms are important chemical building blocks, which are most well recognized in the pharmaceutical industries for imparting desirable biological activity to chemical entities. A number of synthetic strategies to produce chiral amines via biocatalytic as well as chemical transformation have been developed. Recently, ω-transaminase (ω-TA) has attracted growing attention as a promising catalyst which provides an environment-friendly access to production of chiral amines with exquisite stereoselectivity and excellent catalytic turnover. To obtain enantiopure amines using ω-TAs, either kinetic resolution of racemic amines or asymmetric amination of achiral ketones is employed. The latter is usually preferred because of twofold higher yield and no requirement of conversion of a ketone product back to racemic amine. However, the choice of a production process depends on several factors such as reaction equilibrium, substrate reactivity, enzyme inhibition, and commercial availability of substrates. This review summarizes the biochemical features of ω-TA, including reaction chemistry, substrate specificity, and active site structure, and then introduces recent advances in expanding the scope of ω-TA reaction by protein engineering and public database searching. We also address crucial factors to be considered for the development of efficient ω-TA processes.