Discovery, characterization, and evolution of enzymes for biocatalysis and chemical biology
Enzymes found in Nature perform incredible chemistry under mild reaction conditions and with high selectivity. Compared to traditional chemical strategies for manufacturing small molecules, enzymatic strategies have the potential to reduce waste, eliminate costly separation steps, and lower energy requirements. We combine expertise in biochemistry, biosynthesis, structural biology, and protein evolution to discover and to engineer enzymes for biocatalysis and chemical biology. We use evolution not only to develop useful tools for chemical synthesis and biological discovery, but also to probe the basic mechanisms by which enzymes achieve selectivity in substrate recognition and reactivity.
We are particularly interested in metalloenzymes, which can catalyze challenging chemical transformations such as C—H functionalization using earth-abundant metals. While metalloenzymes have been discovered to play critical roles in cellular processes, many more await discovery. We discover new metalloenzymes, solve their structures, and unlock their biocatalytic potential through directed evolution.
Students will gain expertise in a broad range of techniques, including mass spectrometry, bioinformatics, structural biology, NMR spectroscopy, enzymology, and protein evolution. Beyond these core skills, we are always excited to learn new techniques as our projects develop!