• biosynthesis;
  • enzyme catalysis;
  • enzyme models;
  • mutagenesis;
  • transition states


The selectivity towards diols over monoesters in the esterification of diols catalysed by lipase B from Candida antarctica (CALB) was improved by the single point mutation T40A in the enzyme’s oxyanion hole. Substrate-assisted catalysis was suggested from molecular modelling of the tetrahedral intermediate in esterification of 1,2-ethanediol catalysed by T40A CALB. The non-reacting hydroxyl group of the diol forms a hydrogen bond to the oxyanion in the transition state, replacing that deleted in mutation. Monoester yields in transacylation reactions were monitored over time to compare the selectivities for wild-type and T40A CALB. The results showed increased selectivities towards the diols tested over their corresponding monoesters as a result of the T40A mutation with substrate-assisted catalysis as a plausible explanation.