Synthesis of cephalexin in aqueous medium with carrier-bound and carrier-free penicillin acylase biocatalysts

Andrés Illanes, Lorena Wilson, Carolina Aguirre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The use of very high substrate concentrations favors the kinetically controlled synthesis of cephalexin with penicillin acylase (PA) not only by Michaelian considerations, but also because water activity is depressed, so reducing the rates of the competing reactions of product and acyl donor hydrolysis. Commercial PGA-450, glyoxyl agarose immobilized (PAIGA) and carrier-free cross-linked enzyme aggregates of penicillin acylase (PACLEA) were tested in aqueous media at concentrations close to the solubility of nucleophile and at previously determined enzyme to nucleophile and acid donor to nucleophile ratios. The best temperature and pH were determined for each biocatalyst based on an objective function considering conversion yield, productivity, and enzyme stability as evaluation parameters. Stability was higher with PAIGA and specific productivity higher with PACLEA, but best results based on such objective function were obtained with PGA-450. Yields were stoichiometric and productivities higher than those previously reported in organic medium, which implies significant savings in terms of costs and environmental protection. At the optimum conditions for the selected biocatalyst, operational stability was determined in sequential batch reactor operation. The experimental information gathered is being used for a technical and economic evaluation of an industrial process for enzymatic production of cephalexin in aqueous medium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-110
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Cephalexin
  • Cross-linked enzyme aggregates
  • Enzyme immobilization
  • Multipoint covalent attachment
  • Penicillin acylase


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