Novel thermostable enzymes for industrial biotechnology
ERA-IB Grant

The THERMOGENE project will identify, biochemically and structurally characterize novel thermostable transferase enzymes, from newly sequenced thermostable genomes and metagenomes, which have potential applications for industrial biocatalysis. Four main groups of transferase enzymes will be targeted; the transketolase enzymes which can transfer a two carbon group, the transaminases that transfer an amine group, the soluble prenyl transferases that transfer a prenyl group and the methyl and hydroxymethyl transferases. Enzymes with increased thermostability also are more stable in organic solvents and are subsequently more suited to industrial applications to replace conventional chemical synthesis for production of chiral intermediates for the pharmaceutical sector. In addition many of the thermophilic organisms have developed novel metabolic pathways in order to adapt to their environmental pressures. This knowledge will ensure the novelty of the enzymes that will be discovered. For example the thermophilic archaea have unique ether linked lipids in their cell walls which require specific prenyl transferases for their synthesis. The study of these different transferase enzymes will ensure that a wealth of new thermally stable enzymes will be discovered with industrially relevant applications. The new stable enzymes will be made available for academic and industrial biocatalytic applications. The project results will also make a contribution to our knowledge of biodiversity, genetics and metabolic pathways of thermophilic bacteria and archaea and the structural basis of thermophilicity.

The consortium members have complimentary expertise in the discovery of thermophilic organisms and metagenomes, the study of novel metabolic pathways, an understanding of enzyme stability and mechanism and the application of enzymes in commercial biocatalysis. We will be guided by our industrial advisory committee to ensure maximum impact and delivery of new commercial biocatalysts.

Download the THERMOGENE project poster (.pdf).

Download the presentation from the ERA-IB-2 final conference, Berlin, 16/17.02.2016 (.pdf)

Project Partners

Project Co-ordinator and Partner 1 University of Exeter, UK
Professor Jennifer Littlechild, Henry Wellcome Building for Biocatalysis.

Partner 2 University of Bergen, Norway
Professor Nils Birkeland, Department of Biology and Centre for Geobiology.

Partner 3 University of Kiel, Germany
Professor Peter Schoenheit, Institut für Allgemeine Mikrobiologie

Partner 4 Molecular Technologies, Ltd. Moscow
Dr Chilov Ghermes

Industrial Advisory Committee
Dr Roland Wohlgemuth, Sigma Aldrich, Buchs, Switzerland, Chair of European Section of Applied Biocatalysis.