The Web information of most value to people involved in biocatalysis deals with chemical compounds, microorgan isms, metabolic pathways, enzymes, and genes. Users can access each field of information separately, although in some cases there are hypertext links that facilitate finding related information in independent databases. There are commercial databases that cover biocatalysis, for example, focusing on the use of enzymes in organic synthesis. These databases are not freely available and thus are not linked to public Web databases and are not discussed here.
For each of the fields of chemical compounds, microorganisms, metabolic pathways, enzymes, and genes, Internet resources are listed with brief annotations in Table 1, along with their uniform resource locators (URLs). The enzyme and metabolism databases focus most directly on the biocatalysts that might be employed in organic synthesis or metabolic engineering. Most metabolism and enzyme databases, however, deal largely with the reactions common to most living things, often denoted as intermediary metabolism. Emerging applications in biocatalysis are less likely to involve such reactions, being more likely to be derived from metabolism that is carried out by a more limited range of organisms, typically bacteria. As an example, nitrile hydratase from Rhodococcus sp. is now used in the commercial synthesis of acrylamide from acrylonitrile. This is not a reaction carried out by animals, or even E. coli, but it nonetheless provides for clean catalysis with high product yield and purity. These more exotic enzymatic reactions are described in the first of the Web resources listed in Table 1, the University of Minnesota Biocatalysis/ Biodegradation Database. It is described next in more detail.
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