Redox reactions are still a challenge for biochemical engineers. A personal view for the development of this field is given. Cofactor regeneration was an obstacle for quite some time. The first technical breakthrough was achieved with the system formate/formate dehydrogenase for the regeneration of NADH2. In cases where the same enzyme could be used for chiral reduction as well as for cofactor regeneration, isopropanol as a hydrogen source proved to be beneficial. The coproduct (acetone) can be removed by pervaporation. Whole-cell reductions (often yeast reductions) can also be used. By proper biochemical reaction engineering, it is possible to apply these systems in a continuous way.
By cloning a formate dehydrogenase and an oxidoreductase “designer bug” can be obtained where formate is used instead of glucose as the hydrogen source. Complex sequences of redox reactions can be established by pathway engineering with a focus on gene overexpression or with a focus on establishing non-natural pathways. The success of pathway engineering can be controlled by measuring cytosolic metabolite concentrations. The optimal exploitation of such systems calls for the integrated cooperation of classical and molecular biochemical engineering. © 2004 The Japan Chemical Journal Forum and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Chem Rec 4: 254–265; 2004: Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI 10.1002/tcr.20016