Organic Acid to Nitrile: a chemoenzymatic three-step route

Margit Winkler*, Melissa Horvat, Astrid Schiefer, Victoria Weilch, Florian Rudroff, Miroslav Patek, Ludmila Martínková

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various widely applied compounds contain cyano-groups, and this functional group serves as a chemical handle for a whole range of different reactions. We report a cyanide free chemoenzymatic cascade for nitrile synthesis. The reaction pathway starts with a reduction of carboxylic acid to aldehyde by carboxylate reductase enzymes (CARs) applied as living cell biocatalysts. The second – chemical – step includes in situ oxime formation with hydroxylamine. The final direct step from oxime to nitrile is catalyzed by aldoxime dehydratases (Oxds). With compatible combinations of a CAR and an Oxd, applied in one-pot two-step reactions, several aliphatic and aryl-aliphatic target nitriles were obtained in more than 80% conversion. Phenylacetonitrile, for example, was prepared in 78% isolated yield. This chemoenzymatic route does not require cyanide salts, toxic metals, or undesired oxidants in contrast to entirely chemical procedures. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-42
Number of pages6
JournalAdvanced Synthesis and Catalysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2023


  • aldoxime dehydratase (Oxd)
  • carboxylic acid reductase (CAR)
  • chemoenzymatic synthesis
  • cyanide-free nitrile synthesis
  • nitriles
  • oxidoreductases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'Organic Acid to Nitrile: a chemoenzymatic three-step route'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this