Rapid and Quantitative Profiling of Substrate Specificity of ω-Transaminases for Ketones

Sang Woo Han, Jong Shik Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


ω-Transaminases (ω-TAs) have gained growing attention owing to their capability for asymmetric synthesis of chiral amines from ketones. Reliable high-throughput activity assay of ω-TAs is essential in carrying out extensive substrate profiling and establishing a robust screening platform. Here we report spectrophotometric and colorimetric methods enabling rapid quantitation of ω-TA activities toward ketones in a 96-well microplate format. The assay methods employ benzylamine, a reactive amino donor for ω-TAs, as a cosubstrate and exploit aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) as a reporter enzyme, leading to formation of benzaldehyde detectable by ALDH owing to concomitant NADH generation. Spectrophotometric substrate profiling of two wild-type ω-TAs of opposite stereoselectivity was carried out at 340 nm with 22 ketones, revealing subtle differences in substrate specificities that were consistent with docking simulation results obtained with cognate amines. Colorimetric readout for naked eye detection of the ω-TA activity was also demonstrated by supplementing the assay mixture with color-developing reagents whose color reaction could be quantified at 580 nm. The colorimetric assay was applied to substrate profiling of an engineered ω-TA for 24 ketones, leading to rapid identification of reactive ketones. The ALDH-based assay is expected to be promising for high-throughput screening of enzyme collections and mutant libraries to fish out the best ω-TA candidate as well as to tailor enzyme properties for efficient amination of a target ketone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3287-3295
Number of pages9
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 18

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea under the Basic Science Research Program (2016R1 A2B4008470). Dr. S.-W. Han was financially supported by Initiative for Biological Function & Systems under the BK21 PLUS program of Korean Ministry of Education.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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