Recent topics on in vitro synthesis of polyesters by mainly lipase catalysis are reviewed. Lipase, an enzyme catalyzing an ester bond-cleavage reaction by water in living cells, induces the reverse reaction of hydrolysis, leading to polymer production by a bond-forming reaction. Polyester synthesis has been achieved from various monomer combinations, typically oxyacids or their esters, dicarboxylic acids or their derivatives / glycols, and lactones under mild reaction conditions. Lipase catalyzes ring-opening polymerization of lactones and their enzymatic polymerizability is quite specific in comparison with that by conventional chemical catalysts. Enzymatic synthesis of end-functional polyesters by facile procedures has been developed. By utilizing characteristic catalytic function of lipases, regio- and enantioselective polymerizations proceed to give functional polymers, many of which are difficult to be synthesized by conventional methodologies.
Keywords: Polyester Synthesis, Enzymatic Polymerization, ester bond-cleavage reaction, enantioselective polymerizations, 3-methyl-4-oxa-6-hexanolide (MOHEL), Chemoenzymatic synthesis, azelaic anhydride, Enantiomeric excess, 16-Hexadecanolide, Porcine pancrease lipase
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