“Best of last year” listicles are a time honored tradition, and I want in. So in the next few blog posts I want to highlight some some of my favorite research articles of 2014. Here’s the first one:
- Introducing an In Situ Capping Strategy in Systems Biocatalysis To Access 6-Aminohexanoic acid
This is the other recent article on new synthetic methods for nylone precursors. (Chemjobber and See Arr Oh have both nicely profiled a recent photosynthetic approach to adipic acid from hexane.) But the biosynthetic approach in a November issue of Angewandte Chimie is interesting for several reasons. First, it’s very nice example of applying chemical thinking and empiricism to the design of a new, non-natural metabolic pathway. Second, it shows that enzymes that naturally use water as a substrate can in some cases discriminate against water, favoring other, much less concentrated nucleophiles during catalysis. The example from this paper was identifying an esterase that in dilute aqueous solutions of methanol (i.e. lots of water but little methanol) would selectively use methanol rather than water as a substrate, resulting in a methyl transesterified product, instead of the more common hydrolysis to a carboxylate.