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Heterologous hydrogenase overproduction systems for biotechnology—An overview

Fan, Qin; Neubauer, Peter; Lenz, Oliver; Gimpel, Matthias

FG Bioverfahrenstechnik

Hydrogenases are complex metalloenzymes, showing tremendous potential as H2-converting redox catalysts for application in light-driven H2 production, enzymatic fuel cells and H2-driven cofactor regeneration. They catalyze the reversible oxidation of hydrogen into protons and electrons. The apo-enzymes are not active unless they are modified by a complicated post-translational maturation process that is responsible for the assembly and incorporation of the complex metal center. The catalytic center is usually easily inactivated by oxidation, and the separation and purification of the active protein is challenging. The understanding of the catalytic mechanisms progresses slowly, since the purification of the enzymes from their native hosts is often difficult, and in some case impossible. Over the past decades, only a limited number of studies report the homologous or heterologous production of high yields of hydrogenase. In this review, we emphasize recent discoveries that have greatly improved our understanding of microbial hydrogenases. We compare various heterologous hydrogenase production systems as well as in vitro hydrogenase maturation systems and discuss their perspectives for enhanced biohydrogen production. Additionally, activities of hydrogenases isolated from either recombinant organisms or in vivo/in vitro maturation approaches were systematically compared, and future perspectives for this research area are discussed.