Human FMO2-based microbial whole-cell catalysts for drug metabolite synthesis

Martina Geier, Thorsten Bachler, Steven P Hanlon, Fabian K Eggimann, Matthias Kittelmann, Hansjörg Weber, Stephan Lütz, Beat Wirz, Margit Winkler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Getting access to authentic human drug metabolites is an important issue during the drug discovery and development process. Employing recombinant microorganisms as whole-cell biocatalysts constitutes an elegant alternative to organic synthesis to produce these compounds. The present work aimed for the generation of an efficient whole-cell catalyst based on the flavin monooxygenase isoform 2 (FMO2), which is part of the human phase I metabolism. Results We show for the first time the functional expression of human FMO2 in E. coli. Truncations of the C-terminal membrane anchor region did not result in soluble FMO2 protein, but had a significant effect on levels of recombinant protein. The FMO2 biocatalysts were employed for substrate screening purposes, revealing trifluoperazine and propranolol as FMO2 substrates. Biomass cultivation on the 100 L scale afforded active catalyst for biotransformations on preparative scale. The whole-cell conversion of trifluoperazine resulted in perfectly selective oxidation to 48 mg (46% yield) of the corresponding N 1-oxide with a purity >98%. Conclusions The generated FMO2 whole-cell catalysts are not only useful as screening tool for human metabolites of drug molecules but more importantly also for their chemo- and regioselective preparation on the multi-milligram scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number82
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number82
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Experimental
  • Application
  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)

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