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Development of chimeric laccases by directed evolution



DNA recombination methods are useful tools to generate diversity in directed evolution protein engineering studies. We have designed an array of chimeric laccases with high-redox potential by in vitro and in vivo DNA recombination of two fungal laccases (from Pycnoporus cinnabarinus and PM1 basidiomycete), which were previously tailored by laboratory evolution for functional expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The laccase fusion genes (including the evolved α-factor prepro-leaders for secretion in yeast) were subjected to a round of family shuffling to construct chimeric libraries and the best laccase hybrids were identified in dual high-throughput screening (HTS) assays. Using this approach, we identified chimeras with up to six crossover events in the whole sequence, and we obtained active hybrid laccases with combined characteristics in terms of pH activity and thermostability. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012; 109: 2978–2986. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.