Biocatalysis is useful for organic synthesis. For example, lipase is a useful tool for the synthesis of optically active compounds such as chiral alcohols, acids, and their esters. However, lipase catalysis in organic solvent often suffers from reduced activity, selectivity, or stability of enzyme. Therefore, it is important to develop a strategy to improve the reaction performance of lipase in organic solvent.
We have developed a highly active enzyme in organic solvent by coating Burkholderia cepacia lipase(BCL) with an ionic surfactant. Commercially available BCL(crude BCL) exhibits significantly lower activity than Candida antarctica lipase B(CALB; Novozym 435) for acylation of 1-phenylethanol in toluene. Fortunately, we have developed a practical approach for enhancing its activity dramatically. We have discovered that ionic-surfactant-coated Burkholderia cepacia lipase(ISCBCL) has great potential as such an excellent enzyme. It is “1000-fold more active” than crude BCL and “2-fold more active” than Novozym 435. The results indicate that ISCBCL is more efficient than Novozym 435 as the catalyst for the enzymatic reaction in organic solvent.