The main focus in our research is the design and development of bio-inspired systems for the sustainable manufacture of structurally diverse chemical products. This will be achieved through the development of new biocatalytic cascades (i.e. using isolated enzymes in vitro) and biosynthetic pathways (in microbial organisms).
Figure. Amine dehydrogenase with bound NADH cofactor. In our group, we will engineer this class of enzymes.
This bio-inspired approach is expected to elevate yields, to perfect the chemo-, regio- and stereo selectivity, to enhance the atom efficiency and to minimise the environmental impact of synthetic pathways.
The new pathways resulting from our bio-inspired approach will convert inexpensive starting materials from renewable resources in a very efficient and sustainable manner. On a molecular level, this encompasses the internal recycling of redox equivalents, the use of inorganic ammonia as nitrogen source and – if necessary – only molecular oxygen as the innocuous additional oxidant or molecular hydrogen as the most atom-efficient hydride source.
An important aspect of our research is the generation of new enzyme variants, both through semi-rational protein engineering and the creation of artificial enzymes. These novel enzymes will be capable of catalysing chemical reactions that are unknown in nature. Consequently, they can be integrated into artificial pathways to solve challenging synthetic problems, shorten synthetic routes and improve efficiency.