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Catalytic Promiscuity in Biocatalysis: Using Old Enzymes to Form New Bonds and Follow New Pathways



Biocatalysis has expanded rapidly in the last decades with the discoveries of highly stereoselective enzymes with broad substrate specificity. A new frontier for biocatalysis is broad reaction specificity, where enzymes catalyze alternate reactions. Although often underappreciated, catalytic promiscuity has a natural role in evolution and occasionally in the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Examples of catalytic promiscuity with current or potential applications in synthesis are reviewed here. Combined with protein engineering, the catalytic promiscuity of enzymes may broadly extend their usefulness in organic synthesis.