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Anaerobic radical enzymes for biotechnology

Jäger, Christof M.; Croft, Anna K.

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Christof M. Jäger

Anna K. Croft


Enzymes that proceed through radical intermediates have a rich chemistry that includes functionalisation of otherwise unreactive carbon atoms, carbon-skeleton rearrangements, aromatic reductions, and unusual eliminations. Especially under anaerobic conditions, organisms have developed a wide range of approaches for managing these transformations that can be exploited to generate new biological routes towards both bulk and specialty chemicals. These routes are often either much more direct or allow access to molecules that are inaccessible through standard (bio)chemical approaches. This review gives an overview of some of the key enzymes in this area: benzoyl-CoA reductases (that effect the enzymatic Birch reduction), ketyl radical dehydratases, coenzyme B12-dependant enzymes, glycyl radical enzymes, and radical SAM (AdoMet radical) enzymes. These enzymes are discussed alongside biotechnological applications, highlighting the wide range of actual and potential uses. With the increased diversity in biotechnological approaches to obtaining these enzymes and information about them, even more of these amazing enzymes can be expected to find application in industrial processes.


Jäger, C. M., & Croft, A. K. (2018). Anaerobic radical enzymes for biotechnology. ChemBioEng Reviews, 5(3), 143-162.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2018
Online Publication Date Apr 26, 2018
Publication Date Jun 30, 2018
Deposit Date Apr 23, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 27, 2019
Journal ChemBioEng Reviews
Electronic ISSN 2196-9744
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 3
Pages 143-162
Keywords Radicals, Enzymes, Catalysis, Biotechnology, Anaerobic reactions
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Jäger, C. M. and Croft, A. K. (2018), Anaerobic Radical Enzymes for Biotechnology. CBEN. doi:10.1002/cben.201800003 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Contract Date Apr 23, 2018


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