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Web Date: July 25, 2016

Shortcut leads to branched tryptophans

An evolved enzyme builds β-branched tryptophan analogs in one step
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, JACS In C&EN, Organic SCENE
Keywords: biocatalysis, enzyme, unnatural amino acid, noncanonical amino acid, tryptophan, methyltryptophan, beta-branching, directed evolution, bioengineering

Dressing up common amino acids by adding chemical groups creates unusual amino acids that can have novel catalytic, medicinal, and other properties. But adding a methyl group to the amino acid tryptophan’s β carbon is so thorny that it’s rarely done. Now, bioengineers have used directed evolution to produce an enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of β-methyltryptophan analogs in just one step (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, DOI: . . .

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