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Dirigent proteins: molecular characteristics and potential biotechnological applications

Pickel, Benjamin, Schaller, Andreas
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2013 v.97 no.19 pp. 8427-8438
biosynthesis, catalytic activity, coniferyl alcohol, couplings, dimerization, embryophytes, free radicals, glycoproteins
Dirigent proteins (DIRs) are thought to play important roles in plant secondary metabolism. They lack catalytic activity but direct the outcome of bimolecular coupling reactions toward regio- and stereospecific product formation. Functionally described DIRs confer specificity to the oxidative coupling of coniferyl alcohol resulting in the preferred production of either (+)- or (−)-pinoresinol, which are the first intermediates in the enantiocomplementary pathways for lignan biosynthesis. DIRs are extracellular glycoproteins with high β-strand content and have been found in all land plants investigated so far. Their ability to capture and orientate radicals represents a unique naturally evolved concept for the control of radical dimerization reactions. Although oxidative coupling is commonly used in biological systems, its wider application in chemical synthesis is often limited by insufficient selectivity. This minireview gives an overview of functionally described DIRs and their molecular characteristics and wants to inspire further research for their use in biotechnological applications.