Exploring glutathione lyases as biocatalysts: paving the way for enzymatic lignin depolymerization and future stereoselective applications
Glutathione-dependent β-etherases and glutathione lyases are key-enzymes for the biocatalytic depolymerization of lignin. In the first step, the nucleophilic attack of glutathione to the common β-O-4-arylether motif in lignin is catalyzed by β-etherases and afterwards the glutathione is removed again by the action of glutathione lyases. Given their potential impact for lignin valorization, in this paper novel glutathione lyases are reported and biocatalytically characterized based on lignin model compounds. As a result, an enzyme exhibiting increased thermostability and lowered enantioselectivity – key features for implementation of glutathione lyases in enzymatic lignin depolymerization processes – was identified. Furthermore, first mutational studies of these enzymes revealed the possibility to further alter the activity as well as enantioselectivity of glutathione lyases by means of protein engineering. From a practical perspective, onepot multi-step processes combining β-etherases and glutathione lyases are successfully set-up, giving hints on the potential that the implementation of these biocatalysts may bring for biorefinery purposes.