We have a long-standing interest in enzymes that can be used to catalyse chemically troublesome reactions. Our main projects in this area have been the identification, cloning and protein engineering of transketolases and transaminases, but we have also carried out projects on oxidases and restriction endonulceases. Our work in this area is all with close collaboration with the departments of biochemical engineering and chemistry here at UCL.
Transketolases and transaminases
Building on our previous identification and engineering of transketolases and transaminases, we currently have a project focussed on intergrating the two types of enzyme in short pathways in vivo. These pathways will allow the production of a wide range of chiral products from simple precursors.
In addition, we are currently cloning a wide range of new transaminases to assess their potential as biocatalysts. Using comprehensive bioinformatic analysis, we have identified a large number of bacterial transaminases that we are now cloning, expressing and biochemically characterising.
Alternative hosts for whole cell biocatalysis
The aim of our current project in this area is to study the use of Staphylococcus carnosus as an alternative host for whole cell biocatalysis. This is part of ongoing efforts to investigate a range of hosts for biocatalysis and more general protein expression, exploiting the lab's long-standing expertise in micobial molecular biology. Previous projects have included expression and use of cytochrome P450 monoxygenases in Streptomyces lividans.
We chose S. carnosus for the current work as it is an organism used in existing food preparation processes and is tolerant to dessication and high salt conditions.