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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Engineering and Applications of fungal laccases for organic synthesis

Adinarayana Kunamneni, Susana Camarero, Carlos García-Burgos, Francisco J Plou, Antonio Ballesteros and Miguel Alcalde*

Author Affiliations

Departamento de Biocatálisis, Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC, Marie Curie 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain

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Microbial Cell Factories 2008, 7:32  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-7-32

Published: 20 November 2008

Abstract

Laccases are multi-copper containing oxidases (EC 1.10.3.2), widely distributed in fungi, higher plants and bacteria. Laccase catalyses the oxidation of phenols, polyphenols and anilines by one-electron abstraction, with the concomitant reduction of oxygen to water in a four-electron transfer process. In the presence of small redox mediators, laccase offers a broader repertory of oxidations including non-phenolic substrates. Hence, fungal laccases are considered as ideal green catalysts of great biotechnological impact due to their few requirements (they only require air, and they produce water as the only by-product) and their broad substrate specificity, including direct bioelectrocatalysis.

Thus, laccases and/or laccase-mediator systems find potential applications in bioremediation, paper pulp bleaching, finishing of textiles, bio-fuel cells and more. Significantly, laccases can be used in organic synthesis, as they can perform exquisite transformations ranging from the oxidation of functional groups to the heteromolecular coupling for production of new antibiotics derivatives, or the catalysis of key steps in the synthesis of complex natural products. In this review, the application of fungal laccases and their engineering by rational design and directed evolution for organic synthesis purposes are discussed.