Multigram Scale Enzymatic Synthesis of (R)-1-(4′-Hydroxyphenyl)ethanol Using Vanillyl Alcohol Oxidase

Tom A. Ewing, Jasmin Kühn, Silvia Segarra, Marta Tortajada, Ralf Zuhse, Willem J.H. van Berkel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The enantioselective oxyfunctionalisation of C−H bonds is a highly interesting reaction, as it provides access to chiral alcohols that are important pharmaceutical building blocks. However, it is hard to achieve using traditional methods. One way in which it can be achieved is through the action of oxidative enzymes. Although many reports of the oxyfunctionalisation capabilities of enzymes at an analytical scale have been published, reports on the use of enzymes to achieve oxyfunctionalisation on a synthetically relevant scale are fewer. Here, we describe the scale-up of the conversion of 4-ethylphenol to (R)-1-(4′-hydroxyphenyl)ethanol using the flavin-dependent enzyme vanillyl alcohol oxidase. The process was optimised by testing different reaction media and substrate and enzyme concentrations and by performing it under an oxygen atmosphere. Under optimised reaction conditions, 4.10 g (R)-1-(4′-hydroxyphenyl)ethanol at 97% ee was obtained from 10 g 4-ethylphenol (isolated yield 36%). These results highlight some of the challenges that can be encountered during scale-up of an enzymatic oxyfunctionalisation process to a synthetically relevant scale and will be of use for the development of enzymatic processes for the synthesis of industrially relevant compounds. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2370-2376
JournalAdvanced Synthesis and Catalysis
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • Alcohols
  • Alkylphenols
  • Enantioselectivity
  • Flavoprotein
  • Hydroxylation
  • Oxidoreductases

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