Computational design and selections for an engineered, thermostable terpene synthase



Terpenoids include structurally diverse antibiotics, flavorings, and fragrances. Engineering terpene synthases for control over the synthesis of such compounds represents a long sought goal. We report computational design, selections, and assays of a thermostable mutant of tobacco 5-epi-aristolochene synthase (TEAS) for the catalysis of carbocation cyclization reactions at elevated temperatures. Selection for thermostability included proteolytic digestion followed by capture of intact proteins. Unlike the wild-type enzyme, the mutant TEAS retains enzymatic activity at 65°C. The thermostable terpene synthase variant denatures above 80°C, approximately twice the temperature of the wild-type enzyme.