Diaminopimelate decarboxylases (DAPDCs) are highly selective enzymes that catalyze the common final step in different lysine biosynthetic pathways, i.e. the conversion of meso-diaminopimelate (DAP) to L-lysine. We examined the modification of the substrate specificity of the thermostable decarboxylase from Thermotoga maritima with the aim to introduce activity with 2-aminopimelic acid (2-APA) since its decarboxylation leads to 6-aminocaproic acid (6-ACA), a building block for the synthesis of nylon-6. Structure-based mutagenesis of the distal carboxylate binding site resulted in a set of enzyme variants with new activities toward different D-amino acids. One of the mutants (E315T) had lost most of its activity toward DAP and primarily acted as a 2-APA decarboxylase. We next used computational modeling to explain the observed shift in catalytic activities of the mutants. The results suggest that predictive computational protocols can support the redesign of the catalytic properties of this class of decarboxylating PLP-dependent enzymes.