Characterization of carboxylic acid reductases for biocatalytic synthesis of industrial chemicals

Levi Kramer, Erome Daniel Hankore, Yilan Liu, Kun Liu, Esteban Jimenez, Jiantao Guo, Wei Niu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Carboxylic acid reductases (CARs) catalyze the reduction of a broad range of carboxylic acids into aldehydes, which can serve as common biosynthetic precursors to many industrial chemicals. This work presents the systematic biochemical characterization of five carboxylic acid reductases from different microorganisms, including two known and three new ones, by using a panel of short-chain dicarboxylic acids and hydroxy acids, which are common cellular metabolites. All enzymes displayed broad substrate specificities. Higher catalytic efficiencies were observed when the carbon chain length, either of the dicarboxylates or of the terminal hydroxy acids, was increased from C2 to C6. In addition, when substrates of the same carbon chain length are compared, carboxylic acid reductases favor hydroxy acids over dicarboxylates as their substrates. Whole-cell bioconversions of eleven carboxylic acid substrates into the corresponding alcohols were investigated by coupling the CAR activity with that of an aldehyde reductase in Escherichia coli hosts. Alcohol products were obtained in yields ranging from 0.5 % to 71 %. The de novo stereospecific biosynthesis of propane-1,2-diol enantiomer was successfully demonstrated with use of CARs as the key pathway enzymes. E. coli strains accumulated 7.0 mm (R)-1,2-PDO (1.0 % yield) or 9.6 mm (S)-1,2-PDO (1.4 % yield) from glucose. This study consolidates carboxylic acid reductases as promising enzymes for sustainable synthesis of industrial chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1452-1460
Number of pages9
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 4 2018


  • Aldehydes
  • Biocatalysis
  • Carboxylic acid reductases
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Industrial chemicals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry


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