Guidelines for development and implementation of biocatalytic P450 processes

Marie Therese Lundemo, John Woodley

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Biocatalytic reactions performed by cytochrome P450 monooxygenases are interesting in pharmaceutical research since they are involved in human drug metabolism. Furthermore, they are potentially interesting as biocatalysts for synthetic chemistry because of the exquisite selectivity of the chemistry they undertake. For example, selective hydroxylation can be undertaken on a highly functionalized molecule without the need for functional group protection. Recent progress in the discovery of novel P450s as well as protein engineering of these enzymes strongly encourages further development of their application, including use in synthetic processes. The biological characteristics of P450s (e.g., cofactor dependence) motivate the use of whole-cell systems for synthetic processes, and those processes implemented in industry are so far dominated by growing cells and native host systems. However, for an economically feasible process, the expression of P450 systems in a heterologous host with sufficient biocatalyst yield (g/g cdw) for non-growing systems or space-time yield (g/L/h) for growing systems remains a major challenge. This review summarizes the opportunities to improve P450 whole-cell processes and strategies in order to apply and implement them in industrial processes, both from a biological and process perspective. Indeed, a combined approach of host selection and cell engineering, integrated with process engineering, is suggested as the most effective route to implementation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2465-2483
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Biocatalysis
  • Bioprocess engineering
  • P450 monooxygenases
  • Whole cell biotransformation
  • Biocatalysts
  • Biochemical engineering
  • Cells
  • Cytology
  • Enzymes
  • Functional groups
  • Biocatalytic reaction
  • Biological characteristic
  • Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases
  • Monooxygenases
  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Whole-cell biotransformations
  • Cell engineering


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