A procedure for enzyme entrapment into matrices suitable for biocatalytic applications is reported. The method, which takes advantage of the stable formation of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) hydrogels by freezing and thawing PVA aqueous solutions, was assayed using lipase as model enzyme. The leakage of lipase was minimised by using high molecular weight PVA and by previous conjugation of the enzyme to PEG. The immobilised PEG enzyme maintained its catalytic activity in organic solvents also, thus allowing enzymatic activity towards water insoluble substrates. The activity was largely increased reducing the diffusional constrain by cutting the matrices into slices of micron size. Matrix-entrapped lipase-PEG, when used in the hydrolysis of acetoxycoumarins, showed a conversion rate of about 10 times lower than the enzyme-PEG in the free form, and maintained regioselectivity when a diacetylated product was used as substrate. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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