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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 684506, 11 pages
Review Article

From Structure to Catalysis: Recent Developments in the Biotechnological Applications of Lipases

Departamento de Bioquímica, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Athos da Silveira Ramos, 21941-909 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 12 December 2013; Accepted 17 February 2014; Published 24 March 2014

Academic Editor: Noomen Hmidet

Copyright © 2014 Cristiane D. Anobom et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Microbial lipases are highly appreciated as biocatalysts due to their peculiar characteristics such as the ability to utilize a wide range of substrates, high activity and stability in organic solvents, and regio- and/or enantioselectivity. These enzymes are currently being applied in a variety of biotechnological processes, including detergent preparation, cosmetics and paper production, food processing, biodiesel and biopolymer synthesis, and the biocatalytic resolution of pharmaceutical derivatives, esters, and amino acids. However, in certain segments of industry, the use of lipases is still limited by their high cost. Thus, there is a great interest in obtaining low-cost, highly active, and stable lipases that can be applied in several different industrial branches. Currently, the design of specific enzymes for each type of process has been used as an important tool to address the limitations of natural enzymes. Nowadays, it is possible to “order” a “customized” enzyme that has ideal properties for the development of the desired bioprocess. This review aims to compile recent advances in the biotechnological application of lipases focusing on various methods of enzyme improvement, such as protein engineering (directed evolution and rational design), as well as the use of structural data for rational modification of lipases in order to create higher active and selective biocatalysts.