alexa Fluoro amino acids: a rarity in nature, yet a prospect for protein engineering.


Biochemistry & Analytical Biochemistry

Author(s): Odar C, Winkler M, Wiltschi B

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Abstract Fluoro amino acids are highly valuable compounds constantly gaining relevance in diverse fields of the biosciences as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. The value of these compounds can be attributed to the properties of the extremely electronegative fluorine atom. This atom forms a highly polarized bond of extraordinary strength with carbon. The formation of the fluorine-carbon bond is challenging: its chemical synthesis demands harsh reaction conditions and to date only one class of enzyme has been found capable of introducing the fluoride ion into an organic compound. Most of these fluorinating enzymes participate in the biosynthesis of 4-fluoro-L-threonine, the only fluoro amino acid of natural origin discovered so far. Despite their scarcity in nature, fluoro amino acids are valuable tools to fluorinate proteins. The fluoro protein variants often show improved stability and folding as well as altered activity and fluorescence characteristics. This review details the biosynthesis of 4-fluoro-L-threonine with a special focus on the fluorinating enzymes. Moreover, we elaborate on the application of fluoro amino acids as building blocks for fluorinated protein variants. Insight into different techniques to incorporate fluoro amino acids into proteins is also provided. We highlight prospects and the current relevance of fluoro amino acids as a tool to engineer proteins with novel traits. Copyright © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. This article was published in Biotechnol J and referenced in Biochemistry & Analytical Biochemistry

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