Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 274–281 | Cite as

Conversion of aliphatic 2-acetoxynitriles by nitrile-hydrolysing bacteria

  • U. Heinemann
  • C. Kiziak
  • S. Zibek
  • N. Layh
  • M. Schmidt
  • H. Griengl
  • A. StolzEmail author
Original Paper


The enzymatic hydrolysis of the nitrile group of different 2-acetoxynitriles was investigated in order to obtain catalysts that chemoselectively hydrolyse nitriles in the presence of ester groups. The biotransformation of four 2-acetoxynitriles [2-acetoxybutenenitrile (ABN), 2-acetoxyheptanenitrile (AHN), 2-acetoxy-2-(2-furyl)acetonitrile (AFN), and 2-acetoxy-2,3,3-trimethylbutanenitrile (ATMB)] by different bacterial strains that synthesise nitrilases or nitrile hydratases was studied. ABN, AHN and AFN were converted by various microorganisms belonging to different bacterial genera (e.g. Pseudomonas or Rhodococcus) expressing either nitrilase or nitrile hydratase activities. In contrast, no metabolism of the sterically hindered substrate ATMB was observed. All wild-type strains investigated formed considerable amounts of cyanide and aldehydes from the 2-acetoxynitriles. This indicated the presence of esterases converting the 2-acetoxynitriles to 2-hydroxynitriles, which then spontaneously decomposed to the corresponding aldehydes and cyanide. In order to suppress unwanted side-reactions, biotransformations were performed with recombinant Escherichia coli strains that heterologously expressed nitrilase activities originating from Pseudomonas, Rhodococcus, or Synechocystis strains. The attempted conversion of the 2-acetoxynitriles to almost stoichiometric amounts of the corresponding 2-acetoxycarboxylic acids was finally achieved by using either a recombinant E. coli strain that highly overexpressed the nitrilase gene from the pseudomonad or the purified enzyme derived from this strain.


Nitrile Synechocystis Rhodococcus Esterase Activity Mandelonitrile 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Heinemann
    • 1
  • C. Kiziak
    • 1
    • 3
  • S. Zibek
    • 1
    • 5
  • N. Layh
    • 1
    • 4
  • M. Schmidt
    • 2
  • H. Griengl
    • 2
  • A. Stolz
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut für MikrobiologieUniversität StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Organische ChemieTechnische Universität GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Lonza AGVispSwitzerland
  4. 4.R.P. Scherer GmbHEberbachGermany
  5. 5.Institut für BioverfahrenstechnikUniversität StuttgartGermany

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