Isonicotinic acid (INA) is an important pyridine derivative used in the manufacture of isoniazid (antituberculosatic drug) and other pharmaceutically important drugs. Nitrilase catalysed processes for the synthesis of pharmaceutically important acids from their corresponding nitriles are promising alternative over the cumbersome, hazardous, and energy demanding chemical processes. Nitrilase of Nocardia globerula NHB-2 (NitNHB2) is expressed in presence of isobutyronitrile in the growth medium (1.0% glucose, 0.5% peptone, 0.3% beef extract, and 0.1 % yeast extract, pH 7.5). NitNHB2 hydrolyses 4-cyanopyridine (4-CP) to INA without accumulation of isonicotinamide, which is common in the reaction catalysed via fungal nitrilases. The NitNHB2 suffers from substrate inhibition effect and hydrolysing activity up to 250 mM 4-CP was recorded. Complete conversion of 200 mM 4-CP to INA was achieved in 40 min using resting cell concentration corresponding to 10 U mL-1 nitrilase activity in the reaction. Substrate inhibition effect in the fed batch reaction (200 mM substrate feed/40min) led to formation of only 729 mM INA. In a fed batch reaction (100 mM 4-CP/20min), substrate inhibition effect was encountered after 7th feed and a total of 958 mM INA was produced in 400 min. The fed batch reaction scaled up to 1 L and 100% hydrolysis of 700 mM of 4-CP to INA at 35°C achieved in 140 min. The rate of INA production was 21.1 g h-1 mgDCW-1. This is the fastest biotransformation process ever reported for INA production with time and space productivity of 36 g L-1 h-1 using a bacterial nitrilase.
Keywords: 4-Cyanopyridine, Isonicotinic acid, Isobutyronitrile, Bacterial nitrilase, Biotransformation, Substrate inhibition, Fed batch