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Miniproject 1

Site-directed mutagenesis of acetolactate decarboxylase (ALDC) enzyme

ALDC is an unusual enzyme as it can catalyse the conversion of both enantiomers of the chiral substrate molecule alpha-acetolactate to a single enantiomer of the product acetoin.

This unusual activity makes ALDC of potential use in asymmetric catalysis where a single enantiomer of product is required, such as in the synthesis of drug molecules, agro-chemicals, food additives etc. The chirality of the molecule can determine the biological response given. A dramatic example of this is the use of thalidomide during pregnancy in the 1960s, the R enantiomer has the desired sedative effect but the S enantiomer is teratogenic and leads to fetal malformations.

For further information:

Najmudin et al., 2003 Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic studies on acetolactate decarboxylase. Acta Crystallographica Section D: Biological Crystallography, 59, 1073-1075.