PhD Studentship Expanding the Toolbox for Biocatalytic Hydrogenations



Anticipated start date for project: September 2013

Closing date for applications: 30 July 2013

Information about the project:

Biocatalytic hydrogenations of a,b-unsaturated compounds are traditionally performed by a variety of ‘ene’-reductases, belonging to the Old Yellow Enzyme (OYE) family. These FMN-containing oxidoreductases catalyse the NAD(P)H-dependent activated alkene reduction of a variety of a,b-unsaturated aldehydes, ketones, nitroalkenes, nitriles, steroids and dicarboxylic acids. OYEs have been isolated from many yeast and bacterial species, and extensive in vitro and in vivo studies have shown their general applicability in biocatalytic hydrogenations. However, the substrate specificity of these enzymes tends to be limited to mostly small molecules, with some classes of compounds poorly reduced (e.g. alkenes containing monocarboxylic acid activating groups). In addition, the reaction rate and sometimes the product enantiopurity are affected by the presence of oxygen, due to the presence of an FMN cofactor.

The program will extend hydrogenation of a,b-unsaturated compounds to a new class of biocatalyst currently under represented in the biocatalysis tool box. It is likely to generate biocatalysts with very different reactivity profiles which may be difficult to find through conventional directed evolution programs using OYEs. This new class of biocatalyst would be more robust for exploitation under aerobic conditions, since the enantioselectivity and reactivity of OYE biocatalysts is potentially variable under aerobic/anaerobic conditions.

Qualifications applicants should have/expected to receive:  Minimum 2:1 Bachelors degree in relevant subject

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Amount of funding available and eligibility: Funded studentship will cover fees and annual stipend. Open to UK/EU applicants

Contact for further information:  Professor Nigel Scrutton, [email protected]

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