Methods for stabilizing and activating enzymes in ionic liquids—a review



Ionic liquids (ILs) have evolved as a new type of non-aqueous solvents for biocatalysis, mainly due to their unique and tunable physical properties. A number of recent review papers have described a variety of enzymatic reactions conducted in IL solutions; on the other hand, it is important to systematically analyze methods that have been developed for stabilizing and activating enzymes in ILs. This review discusses the biocatalysis in ILs from two unique aspects (1) factors that impact the enzyme's activity and stability, (2) methods that have been adopted or developed to activate and/or stabilize enzymes in ionic media. Factors that may influence the catalytic performance of enzymes include IL polarity, hydrogen-bond basicity/anion nucleophilicity, IL network, ion kosmotropicity, viscosity, hydrophobicity, the enzyme dissolution, and surfactant effect. To improve the enzyme's activity and stability in ILs, major methods being explored include the enzyme immobilization (on solid support, sol–gel, or CLEA), physical or covalent attachment to PEG, rinsing with n-propanol methods (PREP and EPRP), water-in-IL microemulsions, IL coating, and the design of enzyme-compatible ionic solvents. It is exciting to notice that new ILs are being synthesized to be more compatible with enzymes. To utilize the full potential of ILs, it is necessary to further improve these methods for better enzyme compatibility. This is what has been accomplished in the field of biocatalysis in conventional organic solvents. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry