RetroBioCat as a computer-aided synthesis planning tool for biocatalytic reactions and cascades

William Finnigan, Lorna Hepworth, Sabine Flitsch, Nicholas Turner

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As the enzyme toolbox for biocatalysis has expanded, so has the potential for the construction of powerful enzymatic cascades for efficient and selective synthesis of target molecules. Additionally, recent advances in computer-aided synthesis planning are revolutionising synthesis design in both synthetic biology and organic chemistry. However, the potential for biocatalysis is not well captured by tools currently available in either field. Here we present RetroBioCat, an intuitive and accessible tool for computer-aided design of biocatalytic cascades, freely available at Our approach uses a set of expertly encoded reaction rules encompassing the enzyme toolbox for biocatalysis, and a system for identifying literature precedent for enzymes with the correct substrate specificity where this is available. Applying these rules for automated biocatalytic retrosynthesis, we show our tool to be capable of identifying promising biocatalytic pathways to target molecules, validated using a test-set of recent cascades described in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Catalysis
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2021


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