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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. | doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00289

Enzymatic Bioremediation of Organophosphate Compounds -Progress and Remaining Challenges

Meghna Thakur1, Igor L. Medintz2 and  Scott A. Walper2*
  • 1George Mason University, United States
  • 2United States Naval Research Laboratory, United States

Organophosphate compounds are ubiquitously employed as agricultural pesticides and maintained as chemical warfare agents by several nations. These compounds are highly toxic, show environmental persistence and accumulation, and contribute to numerous cases of poisoning and death each year. While their use as weapons of mass destruction is rare, these never fully disappear into obscurity as they continue to be tools of fear and control by governments and terrorist organizations. Beyond weaponization, their wide-scale dissemination as agricultural products has led to environmental accumulation and intoxication of soil and water across the globe. Therefore, there is a dire need for rapid and safe agents for environmental bioremediation, personal decontamination, and as therapeutic detoxicants. Organophosphate hydrolyzing enzymes are emerging as appealing targets to satisfy decontamination needs owing to their ability to hydrolyze both pesticides and nerve agents using biologically-derived materials safe for both the environment and the individual. As the release of genetically modified organisms is not widely accepted practice, researchers are exploring alternative strategies of organophosphate bioremediation that focus on cell-free enzyme systems. In this review, we first discuss several of the more prevalent organophosphorus hydrolyzing enzymes along with research and engineering efforts that have led to an enhancement in their activity, substrate tolerance, and stability. In the later half we focus on advances achieved through research focusing on enhancing the catalytic activity and stability of phosphotriesterase, a model organophosphate hydrolase, using various approaches such as nanoparticle display, DNA scaffolding, and outer membrane vesicle encapsulation.

Keywords: organophosphate, enzyme, Chemical warfare agent, bioremediation, Catalysis, Outer membrane vesicle, Decontamination, Phosphotriesterase

Received: 29 Jul 2019; Accepted: 09 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Thakur, Medintz and Walper. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Scott A. Walper, United States Naval Research Laboratory, Washington D.C., 20375, District of Columbia, United States,