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Transaminase Biocatalysis: Applications and Fundamental Studies

Time: Thu 2019-10-24 10.00

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Biotechnology

Doctoral student: Federica Ruggieri , Industriell bioteknologi, Biocatalysis

Opponent: Professor Mariarita Bertoldi, University of Verona

Supervisor: Professor Per Berglund, Industriell bioteknologi, Biokemi och biokemisk teknologi, Bioteknologi, Kemi

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Biocatalysis is the branch of science at the intersection between chemistry and biology and specifcally dedicated to the application of natural evolvable catalysts, i.e. enzymes, in human-designed chemical processes. Among the array of promising biocatalysts, transaminases (EC 2.6.1.x) are possibly one of the enzyme classes with the largest unrealized potential. Fast inactivation, poor acceptance towards unnatural substrates and limited tolerance to cosolvents are some of the main factors hampering their implementation in chemical synthesis. In the present thesis work advances in both transaminase application and molecular understanding are presented. Indeed, these two topics are deeply interconnected, as a better molecular understanding is expected to ease the generation of novel enzyme variants suitable for new desired applications.

From the application perspective, the design of an effective one-pot transaminase-based racemization system offers new possibilities for the design of fully biocatalytic dynamic kinetic resolutions of valuable chiral amines. Similarly, the successful structure-guided redesign of the small substrate binding pocket of the Chromobacterium violaceum (S)-selective transaminase (Cv-TA) granted access to a new enzyme variant active on semi-preparative scale towards the unnatural substrate 1,2-diphenylethylamine.

From the molecular understanding perspective, the combination of crystallographic and computational techniques led to the formulation of a dimer dissociation model valid for Cv-TA and possibly for other enzymes belonging to the same fold type. This model, which aided the improvement of the Cv-TA stability by structure-based engineering, will hopefully enable similar results in other structurally related enzymes.