Enantio-Complementary Continuous-Flow Synthesis of 2-Aminobutane Using Covalently Immobilized Transaminases

Christian M. Heckmann, Beatriz Dominguez, Francesca Paradisi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Chiral amines are a common feature of many active pharmaceutical ingredients. The synthesis of very small chiral amines is particularly challenging, even via biocatalytic routes, as the level of discrimination between similarly sized R-groups must be exceptional, yet their synthesis creates attractive building blocks that may then be used to prepare diverse compounds in further steps. Herein, the synthesis of one of the smallest chiral amines, 2-aminobutane, using transaminases, is being investigated. After screening a panel of mainly wild-type transaminases, two candidates were identified: an (S)-selective transaminase from Halomonas elongata (HEwT) and a precommercial (R)-selective transaminase from Johnson Matthey (*RTA-X43). Notably, a single strategic point mutation enhanced the enantioselectivity of HEwT from 45 to >99.5% ee. By covalently immobilizing these candidates, both enantiomers of 2-aminobutane were synthesized on a multigram scale, and the feasibility of isolation by distillation without the need for any solvents other than water was demonstrated. The atom economy of the process was calculated to be 56% and the E-factors (including waste generated during enzyme expression and immobilization) were 55 and 48 for the synthesis of (R)-2-aminobutane and (S)-2-aminobutane, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4122-4129
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino transferase
  • Biocatalysis
  • Chiral amine
  • Enzyme engineering
  • Process development


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