Alcohol Dehydrogenases from the thermophile Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius

  • Luke Williams

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This is an investigation into alcohol dehydrogenases (ADHs) from Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius. Eighteen ADHs have been studied, with seven taken for closer inspection. Characterisation was carried out to determine the industrial significance of these enzymes, starting with the substrate scope of the ADHs. The key results obtained are as follows: ADH A is the alcohol dehydrogenase domain of the bifunctional ADHE enzyme (Extance, 2012; Extance et al., 2013). It has been determined that the substrate scope, whilst restricted to linear aliphatic aldehydes, extends at least to dodecanal. Also, with a specificity constant of 167 mM-1 min-1 it appears that ADH A could prefer butanal to shorter-chain aldehydes such as ethanal and propanal with specificity constants of 38 mM-1 min-1 and 35 mM-1 min-1, respectively. Thus ADH A may have a preference for longer aldehydes than previously believed due to its native role in the production of ethanol from acetyl-coA. ADH B was previously investigated for its potential role in the production of butanol. Here it was confirmed as an NADH-dependent ADH, with a substrate scope limited to five carbon length substrates and smaller, with residual activity with C6 substrates. ADH B demonstrated activity with ethyl 4-chloroacetoacetate, an intermediate in the production of statins. Further, an estimated half-life whilst stored at 4°C of 770 days; retention of 86% activity with 10vol% ethyl acetate and 92% activity with 10vol% acetonitrile; and a specific activity of 27 U mg-1 with 3M 2-butanone are all indications that ADH B is a potentially useful enzyme for industry. The last enzyme to be previously investigated was ADH C, which in this work was confirmed to be an acetoin reductase with a very small substrate scope exclusively based around the acetoin motif, and therefore no further work was conducted. ADH D and ADH F both have broad substrate scopes including the industrially-relevant substrates, 5-norbornene-2-carboxaldehyde, 1-phenyl-1,2-propanedione, ethyl 4-chloroacetoacetate and ethyl-2-oxo-4-phenylbutyrate. ADH D is an NADPH-dependent enzyme whereas ADH F can utilise both NADH and NADPH. Both enzymes are annotated as aldo-keto reductases, which is further indicated by multiple sequence alignment with the most similar available protein sequences and crystal structures. Thus, these two enzymes are the first aldo-keto reductases to be examined from moderate thermophiles, and are tentatively assigned in the AKR family as AKR6D1 and AKR5G4 respectively. ADH D has a very low KM (≤0.1 μM) with NADPH, giving a specificity constant of 2,800,000 mM-1 min-1, substantially higher than any other noted. ADH D showed >80% activity from pH 5.0 - 8.0. The enzyme was resistant to solvents DMSO (at 5 vol%) and ethyl acetate, acetonitrile and cyclopentyl methyl ether (at 20vol%). ADH F had the broadest substrate scope of any ADH tested, with 1-phenyl-1,2-propanedione the most preferred substrate with a KM of 0.010 mM and a specificity constant of 54,000 mM-1 min-1. It greatly preferred sodium phosphate at pH 7.0, as almost any deviation resulted in a substantial loss of activity. Activity of ≥70% was recorded in 5vol% DMSO, ethyl acetate, acetonitrile, cyclopentyl methyl ether and 50vol% hexane . Both ADH D and F have optimal activities at 70 °C and both may have application in the biotechnology industry for the production of pharmaceutical intermediates and other high value chemicals. ADH E acts solely as an aldehyde reductase, with Vmax using NADH of 74, 331, 320 and 281 U mg-1 for methanal, ethanal, propanal and butanal, respectively. Activity with NADPH was limited (< 1% compared with NADH). Activity was also noted with higher aldehydes such as octanal and furfural. ADH G is an NADPH-dependent ADH utilizing aldehydes only. It has an optimal temperature of 60°C with a half-life of under two hours at that temperature. In conclusion, this thesis reports a feasibility study into the potential industrial use of specific enzymes for a variety of purposes ranging from the production of pharmaceutical intermediates to bioremediation. ADHs D and F are most likely to have use in the biotechnology industry, and ADHs B and E may be suitable for cofactor regeneration. ADH E may additionally be useful in the bioremediation industry. In addition, the anticipated biological significance of these enzymes is described.
Date of Award23 Nov 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsTMO Renewables Ltd
SupervisorSteven Bull (Supervisor) & Michael Danson (Supervisor)


  • Alcohol dehydrogenase
  • aldo-keto reductase
  • Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius
  • thermophile

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