Glycosyltransferase cascades made fit for chemical production: Integrated biocatalytic process for the natural polyphenol C-glucoside nothofagin

Katharina Schmölzer, Martin Lemmerer, Bernd Nidetzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glycosyltransferase cascades are promising tools of biocatalysis for natural product glycosylation, but their suitability for actual production remains to be shown. Here, we demonstrate at a scale of 100 g isolated product the integrated biocatalytic production of nothofagin, the natural 3′-C-β-D-glucoside of the polyphenol phloretin. A parallel reaction cascade involving coupled C-glucosyltransferase and sucrose synthase was optimized for the one-pot glucosylation of phloretin from sucrose via an UDP/UDP-glucose shuttle. Inclusion complexation with the highly water soluble 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin pushed the phloretin solubility to its upper practical limit (∼120 mM) and so removed the main bottleneck on an efficient synthesis of nothofagin. The biotransformation thus intensified had excellent performance metrics of 97% yield and ∼50 gproduct/L at a space-time yield of 3 g/L/hr. The UDP-glucose was regenerated up to ∼220 times. A scalable downstream process for efficient recovery of nothofagin (≥95% purity; ≥65% yield) was developed. A tailored anion-exchange chromatography at pH 8.5 was used for capture and initial purification of the product. Recycling of the 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin would also be possible at this step. Product precipitation at a lowered pH of 6.0 and re-dissolution in acetone effectively replaced desalting by size exclusion chromatography in the final step of nothofagin purification. This study therefore, reveals the potential for process intensification in the glycosylation of polyphenol acceptors by glycosyltransferase cascades. It demonstrates that, with up- and downstream processing carefully optimized and suitably interconnected, a powerful biocatalytic technology becomes available for the production of an important class of glycosides difficult to prepare otherwise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-556
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • C-glycosides
  • cyclodextrin inclusion complex
  • glycosyltransferase cascade
  • natural product glycosylation
  • solubility enhancement
  • up- and downstream processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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