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Seminar: Methods for the Development of Novel Enzyme Activities: Carbonyl-Olefinations (May 9, 14.00)

April 11, 2017

In the framework of a collaboration – supported by the recently obtained “PhosAgro/UNESCO/IUPAC research grant in green chemistry” – we have the pleasure to host Jun.-Prof. Martin Weissenborn in our lab.

Martin comes from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, in Halle, Germany. I had the chance to work with him during my post-doctoral stay at the University of Manchester, in 2012. He was then a PhD student in the group of Sabine Flitsch and Nick Turner. Now, this collaboration will allow us to jointly to follow up on this work.

Martin will present a lecture on May 9 (14.00, LAVO 51, Place Louis Pasteur in Louvain-la-Neuve). He will focus on how to find novel enzyme activities.

Please join us!

Here is the abstract of the talk:

Biocatalysis has a growing ‘toolbox’ of commercially available enzymes which are capable of catalysing functional group interconversions with exceptional regio- and stereoselectivities. Biocatalysts for the formation of C–C bonds, however, are largely undeveloped. Due to their importance in organic chemistry and to build complex molecules for the use in synthetic biology, enzymes can be used as catalysts for C–C bond formations.  Organisms consist of a vast diversity of proteins which vary in size, structure and function. E. coli, for instance, contains 4400 proteins of which only 50 % have been experimentally characterised. Most of these proteins are presumably promiscuous. Screening organisms such as E. coli with non-natural substrates — like carbenes — could reveal new enzyme activities and promiscuities of thus far uncharacterised proteins.  Therefore, a general method to find novel enzyme activities has been employed which recently resulted in the identification of the first enzyme catalysed carbonyl-olefination reaction. This method is structured into three parts: 1) probing the natural repertoire of proteins by utilising concentrated cell lysates, 2) performing biocatalytic studies on the identified protein and reaction, 3) developing the corresponding protein towards useful and industrial relevant substrates and products by using directed evolution in combination with a cell growth selection assay.  This general approach is applicable to any organism and catalytic reaction of interest.  My talk will be about the employed method to find novel enzyme activities as well as the discovered enzymatic Wittig-type carbonyl-olefination reaction and its application.  


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