High yields of nicotinic acid from 3-cyanopyridine bioconversion were obtained by exploiting the in situ nitrile hydratase-amidase enzymatic cascade system of Microbacterium imperiale CBS 498-74.Experiments were carried out in continuously stirred tank UF-membrane bioreactors (CSMRs) arranged in series. This reactor configuration enables both enzymes, involved in the cascade reaction, to work with optimized kinetics, without any purification, exploiting their differing temperature dependences. To this end, the first CSMR, optimized for the properties of the NHase, was operated (i) at low temperature (5 °C), limiting inactivation of the more fragile enzyme, nitrile hydratase, (ii) with a high residence time (24. h) to overcome reaction rate limitation. The second CSMR, optimized for the properties of the AMase, was operated (i) at a higher temperature (50 °C), (ii) with a lower residence time (6. h), and (iii) with a lower substrate (3-cyanopyridine) concentration to control excess substrate inhibition. The appropriate choice of operational conditions enabled total conversion of 3-cyanpyridine (up to 200. mM) into nicotinic acid to be achieved at steady-state and for long periods. Higher substrate concentrations required two CSMRs optimized for the properties of the NHase arranged in series to drive the first reaction to completion.
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