Peptide synthesis using proteases dissolved in organic solvents

Maria V. Sergeeva, Vikram M. Paradkar, Jonathan S. Dordick

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45 Scopus citations


Organic solvent-soluble α-chymotrypsin (CT) and subtilisin Carlsberg (SC) are effective catalysts for peptide synthesis in homogeneous organic solutions. The soluble enzymes have values of k(cat)/K(m) for the reaction of N-Bz-L-Tyr-OEt with L-Leu-NH2 to yield the dipeptide N-Bz-L-Tyr-L-Leu-NH that are over 3 orders of magnitude higher than their suspended counterparts in isooctane (containing 30% (v/v) tetrahydrofuran (THF) to aid in substrate solubility). Both enzymes are substantially more active in hydrophobic organic solvents than hydrophilic solvents. Adding small concentrations of water (< 0.2% and 1% (v/v) in isooctane-THF and ethyl acetate, respectively) results in up to a 150-fold activation of α-chymotrypsin-catalyzed peptide synthesis. Importantly, added water does nor promote hydrolysis in either isooctane-THF or ethyl acetate; thus, α-chymotrypsin is highly selective toward peptide synthesis in the nearly anhydrous organic solutions. Unlike CT, the activation of subtilisin Carlsberg upon partial hydration of isooctane-THF or ethyl acetate was not significant and actually resulted in substantial hydrolysis. Using α-chymotrypsin, a variety of tripeptides were produced from dipeptide amino acid esters. Reactivity of D-amino acid amides as acyl accepters and partially unblocked amino acid acyl donors further expands the generality of the use of organic solvent-soluble enzymes as peptide synthesis catalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-628
Number of pages6
JournalEnzyme and Microbial Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Enzymatic catalysis in organic solvents
  • Enzyme-catalyzed peptide synthesis
  • Organic solvent-soluble enzymes


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