Diversity and biocatalytic potential of epoxide hydrolases identified by genome analysis

Bert Van Loo, Jaap Kingma, Michael Arand, Marcel G. Wubbolts, Dick B. Janssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Epoxide hydrolases play an important role in the biodegradation of organic compounds and are potentially useful in enantioselective biocatalysis. An analysis of various genomic databases revealed that about 20% of sequenced organisms contain one or more putative epoxide hydrolase genes. They were found in all domains of life, and many fungi and actinobacteria contain several putative epoxide hydrolase-encoding genes. Multiple sequence alignments of epoxide hydrolases with other known and putative α/β-hydrolase fold enzymes that possess a nucleophilic aspartate revealed that these enzymes can be classified into eight phylogenetic groups that all contain putative epoxide hydrolases. To determine their catalytic activities, 10 putative bacterial epoxide hydrolase genes and 2 known bacterial epoxide hydrolase genes were cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The production of active enzyme was strongly improved by fusion to the maltose binding protein (MalE), which prevented inclusion body formation and facilitated protein purification. Eight of the 12 fusion proteins were active toward one or more of the 21 epoxides that were tested, and they converted both terminal and nonterminal epoxides. Four of the new epoxide hydrolases showed an uncommon enantiopreference for meso-epoxides and/or terminal aromatic epoxides, which made them suitable for the production of enantiopure (S,S)-diols and (R)-epoxides. The results show that the expression of epoxide hydrolase genes that are detected by analyses of genomic databases is a useful strategy for obtaining new biocatalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2905-2917
Number of pages13
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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